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Full text of "Old Mexico and her lost provinces; a journey in Mexico, southern California, and Arizona, by way of Cuba"

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George %. XittlefielJ) 


^ ^ 


Bv Felix Parra. 

OLD MEXICO ^ . . . 









Entered according to Act of Congress, in tlie year 1883, by 


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington. 

All rights reserved. 





I. By Way of Cuba and the Spanish Main 1 

II. Vera Cruz 16 

III. Up the Long Mountain Slope 24 

lY. The Capital 3Y 

V. The Projectors 54 

VI. TJie Ferro-carriles , . . -. 70 

VII. The Railioays at Work 80 

VIII. The Question of Money^ and Shopping 96 

IX. Social Life^ and some Notable Institutions 10*7 

X. TTie Fine Arts and Literature 120 

XI. Some Traits of Peculiar History, and the Mexican "Warific^-" 134 

XII. Cuatitlan^ and Around Lakes XocMmilco and Chalco . . . 149 

XIII. To Old Texcoco 162 

XIV. Popocatepetl Ascended 175 

XV. A Banquet, and a Tragedy, at Ciiautla-Morelos 185 

XVI. San Juan, Orizaba, and Cordoba Revisited 192 

XVII. Puebla, Cholula, Tlaxcala 210 

XVIII. Mines and Mining Traits, at Pachuco and Regla 227 

XIX. A Week at a Mexican Country-house 245 

XX. On Horseback and Mideback to Acapidco 263 

XXI. Conversations by the Way with a Colonel 275 




XXII. San Francisco 295 

XXIII. San Francisco (Continued) 324 

XXIV. The Villas of the Bonanza Kings 343 

XXY. 7%e Vintage Season, and Monterey 359 

XXVI. A Wondrous Valley, and a Desert that Blossoms like the Rose 380 

XXVII. Visalia, Baker sfield, and Life on a Spacious Ranch . . .399 

XXVIII. Los Angeles 421 

XXIX. To San Diego, and the Mexican Frontier 448 

XXX. Across Arizona 469 

XXXI. Tombstone 482 

XXXII. Camp Lowell, Tucson, and Sa7i Xavier del Bac 496 



LAS CASAS PROTECTma THE AZTECS. By Felix Parra . . Frontispiece 






















A "merceria" at PUEBLA 106 



THE DEATH OF ATALA. By Luis Monroy 123 








THE "find" 169 







superintendent's house AT REGLA 241 










"nob" HILL, PROM THE BAY 299 




golden gate, from goat island 317 

high-grade residences 327 

chinese fishing-boats in the bay 331 

chinese quarter, san francisco 335 

a balcony in the chinese quarter 337 

in a chinese theatre 339 

railway route : southern california and arizona . . . 345 

palo alto 354 

ralston's country house 357 

bottling champagne at san francisco 361 

a brandy cellar, san jose 363 




















A RODEO 418 











adobe residence at riverside 451 

adobe residence at riverside 452 

old mission at santa barbara 455 

plaza op san diego, old town 457 

old mission at san diego 460 

don juan forster 461 

senora forster 462 

forster's ranch 463 

san luis rey 465 








distant view op tombstone 484 

"ed" schieffelin 487 

a tombstone sheriff and constituents 494 

apache prisoners at camp lowell 497 

an arizona watering-place 499 

cactus growths of the desert 501 

street view in tucson 503 

exterior of mission church of san xavier del bac . . . 505 








Boom ! Two ruddy old castles domineering a narrow 
harbor entrance ; on the other side a city, gray, warm- 
colored, and time-stained, and the bells of the Church of 
the Angels chiming for very early morning service ! It 
was Havana ! 

I began this journey to Old Mexico and her Lost 
Provinces by sailing away from the foot of Wall Street, 
East Kiver, on the 31st day of March, 1881. Some 
would have begun it, no doubt, by taking the railroad 
to our Southern confines, and sailing by the steamers, 
of medium size, which ply from New Orleans, Galveston, 
and Morgan City — all places feeling very much the new 
stimulus lately given to Mexican trade. Others — and 
very likely they could not do better — would have taken 
direct the excellent Alexandre Line, which carries the 
mail from New York, calling at Havana, Progreso, Cam- 
peachy, Frontera, and Yera Cruz. 

Others, perchance, more adventurous, and fond of mix- 
ing as much hardship as possible in their pleasure, might 
have crossed the frontier at Texas, and, the new railroads 


being yet unfinished, been bumped and thumped a thou- 
sand miles to the capital in the wretched diligencias 
(stage-coaches) of the country. 

I did none of these. I shall not be guilty of the ego- 
tism of insisting that I did any better ; but I had formed 
a little plan of infusing variety into the trip without 
making it too onerous. I stood boldly upon the deck of 
the luxurious steamer Neivjjort, bound for Cuba only. 
From there I was to take the French packet making 
regular trips from the ports of St. Nazaire and Santan- 
der to Yera Cruz, and bringing much of the French and 
Spanish migration; or a British steamer from South- 
ampton, or a Spanish one from Cadiz, might be taken in 
the same way. The fare by any and all of the direct 
sea routes is about the same, and may be set down 
roughly at $85.00. The time consumed, where all con- 
nections are expeditiously made, sliould be about eleven 


There was no uncontrollable excitement on that raw 
31st of March when we took our departure. People in 
the great fi.nancial mart, hurrying about their stocks and 
bonds, even blockaded us in an unthinking w^ay as we 
came down to the steamer. It might have been simply 
a case of going to Europe, or anything else quite usual 
and of little import. It was, instead, a case of going to 
a land remote far beyond its distance in miles ; shrouded 
in an atmosphere of mystery and danger ; little travelled 
or sought for; the very antipodes of our own, though 
adjoining it ; venerable w^ith age, though a part of a 
new world; and said to have been suddenly awakened 
from slumber by the first touches of a phenomenal new 


There are those of us whose conception of Mexico has 
been composed principally of the cuts in our early school 
geography, and the brief telegrams in the morning papers 
announcing new revolutions. We rest satisfied with this 
kind of concept about many another part of the globe as 
well till the necessity arrives for going there or other- 
wise clearing it up. I saw, I think, a snow volcano, and 
a string of donkeys, conducted by a broad-brim hatted 
peasant across a cactus -covered plain. I heard dimly 
isolated pistol-shots fired by brigands, and high-sounding 
pronunciamentos and cruel fusillades accompanying the 
overthrow from the Presidency of General this by Gen- 
eral that, who would be served in the same way by Gen- 
eral somebody else to-morrow. To this should be added 
some reminiscence of actions in the Mexican War, and 
notably the portraits of General Scott and bluff old 
Zachary Taylor. 

To this, again, I would add fancies of buried cities in 
Central America, and of Aztec antiquity, and the valor 
and astuteness of Hernando Cortez and his cavaliers, re- 
maining from Prescott's history of the Conquest. One 
of the most captivating of volumes, this had seemed al- 
most mythical in its remoteness ; and as to the idea of 
actually verifying its scenes in person, it was beyond the 
wildest imagination. 

But now all at once this uncertain territory had be- 
come real. The railroad had penetrated it, and made it 
accessible to the average private citizen. Not that it 
could yet be reached by railway, for the first international 
line is still incomplete, though its termination is near 
at hand ; but a multitude of lines, undertaken by Amer- 
ican capital and enterprise, and aided by a Government 
of liberal ideas, were traced over every part of the land, 


and some of them in progress. The locomotive screamed 
along-side the troops of laden donkeys and in sight of 
the snow volcanoes. Even the brigands were said to 
have been dislodged from their fastnesses, the revolutions 
had ceased, and a reign of peace and security begun. 

Momentous rumors from these new enterprises were 
frequent in the newspapers, and predictions indulged in 
of the great increase of trade and population to result 
to Mexico by them. General Grant, to whose personal 
influence much of the turning of public attention in this 
unwonted direction, after his first visit, should certainly 
be ascribed, had taken the presidency of one of them. 
Their stocks and bonds were being prepared in bank- 
parlors, but as yet there was no " boom," little that was 


I did not quite know, when standing on the deck of the 
departing steamer, that I was to return to this dense New 
York, with its tall towers and mansards and fairy-like 
bridge, from the other side of the world. This journey 
lengthened out into a long, desultory ramble, beginning 
with Cuba, and, after Mexico, concluding with the most 
remote, novel, and characteristic of our own possessions 
on the Pacific slope. There is unity of subject, and even 
a certain pathos, in the recollection that this latter was 
once Mexican territory also. Its most obvious basis of 
life is still Spanish, and it may be sentimentally consid- 
ered a kind of Alsace-Lorraine — a part of the sister re- 
public when it was well-nigh as large and powerful as 

It was naturally cold on the 31st day of March, and 
blustering weather followed us down the coast as far 
as it dared. Then I awoke one morning early, at the 


warm gleam of summer in the yellow lattices of my cabin 
window, and, looking out, saw that we were voyaging, on 
an even keel, on the placid blue sea of the tropics. Fra- 

grant odors were wafted over to us from Florida, though 
we did not see the land. The Pan of Matanzas came in 
sight, and we studied the long, bold outline of the island 
of Cuba. It was the Spanish Main. It was the perfec- 
tion of weather for piracy. If the " long, low, suspicious- 


looking craft, with raking masts," which used to steal out 
from sheltered covers to plunder rich galleons, had many 
such days for their occupation, it was, so far at least, an 
enviable one. 

We had on board a Cuban w^ho had married a Connect- 
icut wife, and lived so long in a Connecticut village that 
he had a kind of Connecticut accent himself, and he was 
taking his wife to see his family, where, no doubt, much 
astonishment awaited her. 

The captain, a merry and entertaining soul, had prom- 
ised us, for our last day's dinner, a baked ice-cream. He 
endeavored to get up bets on the improbability of his 
being able to accomplish it ; but there, sure enough, it 
was, and doubters were put to scorn. There was a form 
of ice-cream, frozen hard and firm, and a crust over it, 
brown and smoking — a dish, as it were, tj^pical of our 
situation, as a hardy E'orthern element in the embrace of 
the tropics. Not to continue the mystery of it, and as an 
earnest that there shall be no "tales of a traveller" in 
this record which are not strictly true, let it be explained 
that the ice had been covered with a light froth of white 
of G'gg, which was rapidly browned and scorched at the 
cook's galley before the interior had time to be dissolved. 


And so, as 1 say, two ruddy stone castles, full of green 
old bronze guns (we found that out afterward), looking 
down upon a narrow harbor-entrance ; and it was Ha- 
vana ! 

It was the morning of the 5th of April on which we 
entered it. We steamed up the strait to where it widens 
out into a basin, made fast to a buoy, and had our first 
glimpse of cocoa-palms, growing, unfortunately, around 


a cluster of coaling-sheds. Some harbor boats took us 
ashore. We landed at broad stone steps pervaded by 
smells, passed into the Custom-house (which had been 
an old convent), and out of it into paved lanes full of 
donkeys, negroes, soldiers, sellers of fruits and lottery- 
tickets, engaged in transactions in a debased fractional 
currency. The money of the debt-ridden island is that 
of our "shin-plaster" war period, of unhappy memory. A 
couple of boiled eggs in a common restaurant cost forty 
cents ; a ride in a horse-car, thirtj^-five. The wages of a 
minor clerk at the same time were but $30 or $40 a 
month. How does he make ends meet and provide for 
his future? He buys regularly a certain amount of 
hope in tlie Government lottery. "A demoralizing sys- 
tem indeed !" I said, as I f row^ned over the wares of a 
dealer who had lost a leg in the insurrection. I think 
it was No. 11,014 I bought, however, in a grand extra 
drawing, the first prize of which w-as to be a million, in 
paper. I trust the gentle reader will feel that I repented 
when I heard the result, some months after, in Mexico, 
and that I should have tried just as hard to repent had 
I won. 

The Havanese were exercised just then over the dis- 
covery of great frauds in their Marine Department. 
Forty million dollars had been stolen, by collusion be- 
tween contractors and the commissariat, since the out- 
break of the rebellion in 1868. The Morro Castle was 
full of prisoners of distinction — officers, marquises, and 
counts, of the sugar aristocracy of the island, and Old 
Spain — awaiting their trial by court-martial. The prin- 
cipal operator, one Antonio Gassol, had already been 
sentenced to tw^o years' confinement and the restitution 
of a million of his ill-gotten gains. 

The talk of not a few intelligent persons w'as, that the 


ten years' insurrection bad been purposely kept alive by 
rings of contractors for purposes of spoliation, and by 
ambition for military advancement. Dnlce, they said — 
going through the list of Captains-General — had married 
a Cuban wife, and was secretly a traitor ; De Rodas, when 
asked for re-enforcements at a certain place, withdrew a 
portion of the troops already there ; Pieltan was occu- 
pied in intriguing for the republican cause in Spain, 
and the easy-going Concha for the cause of King Alfonso. 
Finally, Martinez Campos and Jovellar were sent out, 
and, yielding to the demand of the universal weariness, 
by a little display of vigor, the one in the cabinet, the 
other in the field, made an end of the languishing 

This may have been, however, merely the story of the 
discontented, which should be taken with a grain of salt. 
It is true, on the one hand, that the area of the island is 
not great, and the despatch of forces from Spain easy; the 
insurgents never held a town, and received no aid worth 
mentioning from without. But, on the other hand, there 
were no railroads of consequence, the ordinary roads were 
wretched, and there was the wild manigiia^ as it is called, 
half forest, half swamp, with which a good part of the 
island has abounded from the date of Christopher Co- 
lumbus down. It was in the wtanigua that the insur- 
gents found refuge from pursuit. 

It so happened that the Yille de Brest was delayed in 
her coming, and I had six or seven days of leisure in 
the island. I employed part of it in a run down to Ma- 
tanzas, the second city. I saw on the way the manigiia^ 
which is sentimentally pretty, from a distance, with 


masses of laurel, cypress, and graceful palms ; but within 
it is a thicket of intertwisted cactus, thorns, and creep- 
ers, through which a way must be opened with the mor 
chete, a formidable half knife, half cleaver, carried by the 
peasants for general uses on the plantations, and w^hich 
served also as their weapon in the strife. 

There was an International Exhibition in progress at 
Matanzas, easily rivalled by almost any American county 
fair. The railway ride of three hours and a half by a 
ram-shackle train, run by a Chinese engineer, was hot and 
dusty, but how well repaid by the first deep draughts of 
satisfaction in understanding at last the heart of a trop- 
ical country! There was the thatched cabin, shaded by 
the broad-leafed banana. It was like '' Paul and Vir- 
ginia." Where was the faithful negro Domingo? The 
hedges were of cactus and dwarf pine-apple. There were 
groves of cocoa-nuts like apple-orchards with us, and un- 
know^n fruits too numerous to mention. It was as if each 
peasant proprietor had cultivated a gigantic conserva- 
tory, and were indulging himself in the luxuries of life 
in consideration of foregoing its necessities. 

Matanzas was dull, even with its Exposition, a pretty 
plaza, and the memory of a locally immortal poet, Mi- 
lanes, of whom a tablet in a wall testified that he was 
born and died in a certain house. I looked into his 
works at a book-stall. He wrote on "Tears," " The Sea," 
"Spring and Love," "The Fall of the Leaves," "To 
Lola," and " A Coquette." " Your mother little thought, 
when she held you an infant in her arms," he says, in 
substance, to the coquette, " of what whiles and perfidies 
you would be capable. Your beauteous aspect will in 
time fade away, and what remorseful memories will 
you not then have to look back upon !" 

With this dip into the poetic inspiration of the heart 


of the island of Cuba let me take the train back to 
town, having made a beginning of the discovery that a 
glib rhyming talent — and facility in speech-making as 
well — is common among the Spanish- Americans. 

I visited a sugar plantation, where the negro slaves, 
swarming out of a great stone barracks — the men in rag- 
ged coffee-sacks, the women in bright calicoes — were as 
wild and uncouth as if just from the Congo. Next I 
went to the bathing suburb of Chorrera, where there is 
a battered old fort that has done service against the pi- 
rates, and where the American game of base -ball has 
been acclimated. 


Havana was gay with parks, opera-houses, clubs, and mil- 
itary music. Awnings were stretched completely across 
the two narrow streets of principal shops. Bright 
tinting of the modern walls contrasted with a gray old 
rococo architecture. An interior court of my hotel was 
colored of so pure an azure that it w^as puzzling at the 
first glance to say where the sky began and the wall 
ended. The more important mansions were of a size 
and stateliness within which is probably nowhere sur- 
passed, but neither in them nor the shabby little attempt 
at a gallery were there any pictures worthy of the name. 

" You will find all that — the treasures of art — in Mex- 
ico," the Havanese say. " Yes indeed ! that is the place 
for them." 

They speak with great respect of Mexico, with which, 
perhaps, they have no very intimate personal acquaint- 
ance. Up to the independence of the latter, in 1821, it 
was tlie richest and greatest of all the Spanish posses- 
sions ; and Cuba, made more important in its turn by this 
independence, was but a stopping-place on the way to it. 


It is worth while to have seen Havana and Cuba as a 
preliminary to Mexico. The Spanish tradition pervading 
both is the same, with local modifications. It was here, 
too, that Hernando Cortez prepared his immortal expe- 
dition of discovery and conquest. Since I am preparing 
my own, to follow over exactly the same course, why 
should I repine that the Ville de Brest is a day or two 
longer in coming ? 

He was a wild young fellow in the island in early 
days, this Cortez, his chroniclers say, and gave little 
promise of the great qualities he developed in the enter- 
prise which steadied him. The shilly-shally. Yelasquez 
would have stopped the sailing of his expedition and 
thrown him into prison, but he dropped down the harbor 
before his preparations were half completed and finished 
them elsewhere. He put to sea at last, with five hundred 
and fifty men, in nine small vessels, to undertake the con- 
quest of an empire teeming with millions. The largest 
of his vessels was of a hundred tons, and some were mere 
open boats. In these he conveyed, too, sixteen horses, 
which cost him, it is said of them, "inexpressibly dear." 

We make a boast of our hardihood sometimes, yet 
grumble at sea-sickness, delays, the ordinary mischances 
of the traveller. But think of it ! To set out in such a 
fashion, without steam, without charts, subject to every 
bodily ill for which modern science has found a remedy, 
and carrying your horses, worth well-nigh their weight in 
gold, to proceed against an unknown empire ! Why, we 
do not know the first principles of boldness ! 


At last, on the 11th of April, the Ville de Brest came 
in, and went out again on the same day. She was a 


steadj-going, hourgeois-lookmg craft, as compared with 
the elegant American steamer, and showed traces of hard 
knocks in her long, plodding journey of twenty days to 
this point. She treated us well enough, however, and 
presented the novelty of surroundings for which I had 
come aboard. There was a little, gold-laced captain, and 
the crew wore white canvas hats and suits of two shades 
of blue cotton, as if equipped for some charming nautical 
opera. I believe I was the only English-speaking passen- 
ger; and as it has never been known to occur to a for- 
eigner to practise his English, it was an excellent oppor- 
tunity for practising the languages likely to be needed 
in the new country. 

There was a young Frenchman who had been back to 
his own country to marry a wife, and brought her with 
him. There was a French engineer coming to report 
for principals in Paris on Mexican mines; an agent of 
a scheme for the establishment of a national bank. A 
young Italian of Novara, who had "Student" printed on 
his visiting-card, had secured an engagement as clerk in 
the capital for three years. An elderly Spaniard was 
coming over to look into the subject of forgotten heri- 
tages ; another had obtained a position in the mines at 
Guanajuato. There were commercial men, and a well- 
to-do Mexican family, returning from their travels, with 
a son who had studied law at a Spanish university. 

It has been proposed to call this body of water — made 
up of the Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico — the 
Columbian Sea, in compliment to sadly-neglected Colum- 
bus ; and it seems a good idea, but it will hardly now be 
carried out. My predecessors have seen many an inter- 
esting sight on this tropical old Spanish Main, the source, 
too, of that greatest of natural mysteries, the Gulf Stream. 
But these must have been in times long gone by. In the 


day of steam, with the swift prow always in motion, the 
ocean is vacant. There is no catching of sharks and dol- 
phins, hardly even a covey of flying-fish. Those things 
were for the long, lazy periods of calm, when the deni- 
zens of the deep gathered curiously around the craft half 
quiescent among them. 

One of my predecessors in 1839 — Madame Calderon 
de la Barca, whose book on Mexico remains full of inter- 
est still — was twenty-five days making the voyage from 
Havana to Yera Cruz. She saw, too, as she approached, 
the snow-clad peaks of Orizaba and the Cofre of Perote, 
thirty leagues inland. We saw nothing of these. The 
sky was of an opaque gray above low sand-hills, on which 
a white surf was tumbling. We made our transit in 
three days, including some stoppage by a "norther." 
The norther is of peculiar moment to the Mexican har- 
bors of the eastern coast; they are little more than open 
roadsteads, and when it blows they cannot be entered. 





The sea of the subsiding "norther" was still running 
heavily toward Yera Cruz, as if it would overwhelm it. 
It was a little Venice that we saw when we came to it. 
A half-mile or so of buildings, compact and solid, with 
blackened old rococo domes and steeples ; yellow for the 
most part, scarlet, pink, green, and blue, in patches ; a 
stone landing-quay, and a long, light iron pier projecting 
from it. At the end of the pier from a crane hung an 
iron hook, and to this the imagination instantly hooked 
on. It was the termination of the English railway to 
the capital. By that road, with all possible expedition, 
we should be borne up out of the miasmatic lands of 
the coast — the over-luxuriant Tierra Caliente — to the 
wonders of the interior. 

To the left a reddish castellated fort. I^o suburbs — not 
a sign of them — only long, dreary stretches of sand. Very 
far down on the sand, with the sea breaking white over 
her, was the English steamer Chrysolite^ dragged from 
her moorings by the gale and wrecked. We came in at 
evening, and joined ourselves to a little cluster of steam- 
ers and sailing-vessels made fast to buoys under the lee 
of a coral reef, on which stands the disreputable old cas- 
tle of San Juan d'Ulloa. It is whitewashed in part, and 
partly as blackened by time and powder as the reef itself. 




A revolving lantern moved round on its summit. It was 
told to the confiding that the Government kepo prisoners 
there to turn it; and they were instructed to look for 
their dark, flitting forms and hear their lugubrious cries. 
We heard all night, at any rate, the creaking of the pumps 
of an American bark along-side, which had come disabled 
into port, with a freight of logs from Alvarado, and could 
barely keep afloat. 

It so happened that it was the anniversarj^ of the arri- 
val of Cortez, in the year 1519. He had arrived on the 
evening of Thursday of Holy Week, and so had I. It 
was on the morning of Good Friday that I went ashore. 
We were taken off in small boats, and our ship unloaded 
by lighters, for there is not one of these Mexican harbors 
where a ship can lie up to a wharf in safety. 

More than the usual embarrassments await the ordi- 
nary traveller on the quay at Yera Cruz, by so much as 
he is apt to know less of Spanish than of French — in 
which most of the dearly-bought early foreign experience 
is acquired — and nobody will tell him the truth. Let it 
be fixed in mind that but one train a day starts for the 
capital, and this at eleven at night. The designing by- 
standers make you take your baggage to a hotel, pretend- 
ing that no other course is possible. Take it, instead, to 
the depot at once and get rid of it, and then see the town. 

For the town is by all means to be seen. One had 
not expected much of a place the reputed home of pesti- 
lence, and I shall not advise a lengthened stay ; but, from 
the point of view of the picturesque, it has some pleasant 

Founded by the Count de Monterey in the early part 
of the seventeenth century — for it is not quite the site 
of the original Yera Cruz of Cortez, which was above — 
it has now attained a population of about seventeen thou- 


sand. The principal shops had a large, well-furnished 
aspect, especially those in groceries and heavy hardware. 
The Custom-house square was piled to repletion with 
bales of cotton, raih'oad iron, and miscellaneous goods 
awaitino; transit. 

1 walked, the very first thing, into a large, cool public 
library, which had once been a convent. It was not much 
of a public library, the books being few, and to a certain 
extent bound in vellum, as if they too had belonged to 
the convent; but it was public, and what one did not 

The churches were of a well-proportioned, solid, gran- 
diose, rococo architecture, and had charming bells. The 
principal one, in a little shaded plaza, had its dome en- 
crusted with colored china tiles, which shone in the sun 
— a feature waiting in plenty farther on. They were 
draped in black, and crowded with worshippers to-day, 
and abounded in strange figures of bleeding Christs, with 
other evidences of a florid form of devotion. 

Grass grew in joints of the pavement in the minor 
streets, as I had seen it, for instance, in some such place 
as Mantua. Long water-spouts project from the tops of 
the flat-roofed white and yellow houses, and upon these 
sit the solemn zopilotes. All the world knows that the 
street-cleaning of Vera Cruz is conducted by the ravens, 
or buzzards; but all the world does not know with what 
a dignity these large zopilotes, of a glossy blackness, often 
pose themselves immovably on the eaves against the deep 
blue sky. They might be carved there for ornament. 
Many a street-cleaning department is at least less sculpt- 
uresque, and perhaps less efficient. 

The principal thoroughfare, called of the Indepen- 
dence, leads to a short, concrete-covered promenade, bor- 
dered with benches and a double row of cocoanut-palms. 


and this to the open country. It is an early discovery 
tliat the Mexican is patriotic. He is fond of naming his 
streets and squares after his military achievements, and 
particularly the Cinco de Mayo (the Fifth of May). We 
shall hear plenty more of it, this Cinco de Mayo. It was 
won at Pnebla over the French, in 1862. He attaches 
also to cities the names of his heroes. Thus Yera Cruz 
itself is Vera Cruz of Llave, a general and governor; 
Oaxaca, Oaxaca of Juarez, the sagacious President ; and 
Puebla, Puebla of Zaragoza, its commandant on the 
5th of May above-named. 

There were notices of a bull-fight posted on the dead 
walls. Nearly all typical notes are struck at once — plaza. 
Renaissance churches, patriotism, bull-fight, and tropical 
vegetation. I took a tram-car of a peculiar, wide, open 
pattern (made, however, in New York) out to the open 
fields, and saw a dancing-place, a ball-ground, and the 
dark, heavily walled-in cemetery. 

The road to this latter should not be grass-grown, if 
half the tales of dread told abroad be true. And yet 
there are apologists even for the yellow-fever, or rather 
those who say that its ravages are greatly magnified. 

I fell in with the Yankee captain of the disabled bark 
which had lain by us during the night. He was sitting 
on a low stone post at a street corner, and was half dis- 
consolate, half desperate, by turns. He could find no dry- 
dock in which to lie up for repairs ; and he could get no 
steam-pump, by the aid of which he might have kept on 
his way. He was condemned to see his venture sold for 
a song, for want of means to save it. 

If little, as I say, was expected from the land at this 
place, a good deal, on the other hand, was expected from 
the water, at an ancient port, the New York of Mexico, 
receiving nine-tenths of the commerce of a nation of ten 


million people. But not a year passes without a num- 
ber of disasters, which has led the underwriters to make 
their risks to Yera Cruz about five times higher than to 
most other ports. The aggregate of these losses for a 
brief time would pay the cost of works needed to make 
the inhospitable roadstead a harbor. 

A few rudimentary preparations are absolutely neces- 
sary before Mexico can enter upon the expected period 
of prosperity, and the creation of harbors in some degree 
commensurate with the new transportation facilities is 
one of them. A breakwater plan will, no doubt, have to 
be adopted like that so much in use on our great lakes 
and the Channel ports of Europe. It was of interest to 
hear, during my stay in the country, that this need had 
impressed itself upon the authorities at Yera Cruz and 
Tampico, and that they had taken the step of counsel- 
ling on w4iat was best to be done with the American 
engineer. Captain Eads, who was engaged in his unique 
scheme of a ship railway across the Isthmus of Te- 


I had the pleasure of spending the evening, pending 
ehe departure of the train, in a large, cool, roomy house, 
w^ith the American consul. He had been a resident for 
twelve years, and had brought up a family of daughters 
here. It did not seem, at first sight, an attractive place 
in which to bring up a family ; but they saw a good deal 
of company from the ships in port, took an occasional 
run to the capital, or a vacation at Jalapa or Cordova, 
above the danger-line, and seemed well content. 

The consul was himself a physician, and had much to 
say on the subject of the yellow-fever. He insisted that it 
was epidemic, but not contagious. The local authorities 


put afflicted patients in their hospitals along-side others 
suffering from ordinary sickness, and these latter do not 
take it. 

" Great damage," he said, " is done to the commercial 
interests of both countries by the annoying restrictions 
of quarantine arising from this cause. There is no more 
need of quarantine against yellow-fever than against com- 
mon fever and ague, since it cannot be transmitted." 

He quoted eminent medical authority at New Orleans 
as sharing his views. From which it would seem that the 
subject is worth careful looking into from official sources, 
in order that, if there be a mere popular delusion, it may 
be dispelled. As I write tlie Mexican Government has 
just granted authority to the steamer line which carries 
the mail into ^N^ew Orleans to reduce tlie number of its 
trips to one each month during the quarantine, increase 
its freight and passenger rates fifty per cent., and, if the 
traffic does not pay even under the increase, to abandon 
it entirely. 

The consul, in conclusion, had known but one country- 
man of ours to die of it during his stay, and only a few 
to be attacked. I may say, however, that the consul suc- 
ceeding this one — who has since gone away — arrived fresh 
from Minnesota, and died at his post within a week. 

Another interesting subject of talk with the consul 
was the tariff laws and the usages of the port of entry, 
naturally of leading importance here. The tariff system, 
based on an original law of 1872, has been greatly tam- 
pered with since, and is in a confused state; so that, with 
the best intentions, importers are apt to be visited with 
double duties, fines, detentions of goods, and law -suits. 
There are some three hundred and seventy-eight articles 
in the specified list. New articles are charged for after 
the manner of those which they resemble. Thus, when 

VERA CRUZ. ' 23 

the article of celluloid was first introduced there was 
doubt whether it ought to be taxed twentj-nine cents a 
kilogram as bone, or $2.20 a kilogram as ivory, and the 
decision was finally in favor of the latter. 

The merchant must use the names employed in the 
country. Thus, our "muslin" sliould be merely ''shirt- 
ing" or "calico;" while what is understood here by mus- 
lin is really lawn, taxed twice as much. The least varia- 
tion in a label or form of package is visited with penal- 
ties. Storage in the warehouses, too, is estimated, not by 
the space occupied, but by the package, which is a hard- 
ship. A case is told of where ordinary anjente hooks- 
and-eyes, which should pay nineteen cents a kilogram, 
were charged for as '* plated silver," which pays $1.15, 
and then a double duty imposed for "false declaration," 
making the total $2.30 a kilogram. As a rule, a " vent- 
ure" is not a success. The laws, framed with excessive 
severity against contrabandists, whom they often fail to 
reach, afi9.ict well-meaning persons. They make the con- 
signee of goods subject to all the penalties; and many 
of these latter are afraid to touch, without the most am- 
ple guarantees, consignments of goods which they have 
not specifically ordered. The Germans succeed best in 
this trafiic, through their painstaking attention to the 
local requirements. 

" I w^ll tell you a story," said the consul, " of an un- 
lucky fellow who came here from England with a small 
venture of fancy goods, part free of duty. The whole 
cost him originally $1200 ; and he had consulted the 
Mexican consul at Liverpool, and thought he knew what 
he was about. When he got through the Custom-house 
his total charges and fines had amounted to $2850. He 
sold his stock for $2000, and borrowed money to pay the 
difference and get out of the country." 





Theee is but one train a day, each way, on the English 
railway, and the journey occupies twenty hours. The 
road is a great piece of engineering, and has been de- 
scribed more than anything else in Mexico. Photographs 
— almost the only good ones to be had in the country — 
are plentiful, displaying its notable points. It climbs 
seven thousand six hundred feet to the table-land in a 
distance of about two hundred miles, the whole way to 
the capital being about two hundred and sixty. It has 
the transporting of the greater amount of construction 
material brouglit into the country for the new roads, and 
has lately been quite profitable. A first-class fare is $16 ; 
a second-class, $12.50 ; and baggage is charged for, as on 
the Continent of Europe. 

Behold us at last at the station, at eleven o'clock at 
night, ready to climb to the capital — but how unlike our 
great predecessor, Cortez — by railway. No, indeed ; poor 
hero ! he had to linger at the coast for months before 
beginning his long and painful march, with a battle at 
every step. Nor was it by the same route. He went in 
by TIaxcala, Cholula, Puebla, and so over between the 
great snow -peaks of Popocatepetl and Ixtacihuatl (the 
White Woman), down to the gleaming lakes and palaces 




of ancient Tenochtitlan. In this course he was followed 
bj General Scott in his turn. The old diligence road — 
of their adventures on which my predecessors have writ- 
ten so much — continued practically the same route, going 
first by x^ational Bridge and beautiful Jalapa. 

I say beautiful Jalapa — although I have not been 
there myself — because all testimonies point with such 
a unanimity to the charms of soil and climate, and the 
beauty of the feminine type, in what is considered a pe- 
culiarly favored spot, that I think there can be no doubt 
about it. 

There were no sleeping-cars ; but the carriages, divided 
into compartments for eight, and comfortably padded (on 
the European plan), filled their place very well. The 
passengers in the third-class cars had already begun the 
night with a boisterous singing and playing of harmoni- 
cas. To-morrow was the Sabado de Gloria (or Holy Sat- 
urday), an occasion of merry-making, and they were tak- 
ing an earnest of it. A car containing half a company of 
dusky Indian soldiers, who act as an escort, was coupled 
on to the train. 

The associates in the compartment in which I estab- 
lished myself were the French engineer sent out to re- 
port for principals in Paris on Mexican mines, and the 
young Frenchman bringing back a bride from his own 
country. All at once there entered it so lawless and 
bizarre-looking a figure that the French engineer sent 
out to report on mines to his principals in Paris thought 
it prudent to descend hastily and seek quarters elsewhere. 
The rest of us, though remaining, were, perhaps, in no 
small trepidation. It was the first view at close quarters 
of a dashing type of Mexican costume and aspect wdiich 
is peculiarly national. 

Our new friend was dressed in a short black jacket. 


under which showed a navj revolver, in a sash ; tight 
pantaloons, adorned up and down with rows of silver 
coins; a great felt sombrero, bordered and encircled with 
silver braid ; and a red handkerchief knotted around his 
neck. A person in such a hat seemed capable of any- 
thing. And I had forgotten to mention silver spurs, 
weighing a pound or two each, upon boots with exag- 
gerated high and narrow heels. This last, by-the-waj, 
is a peculiarity of all boot^fV^nd shoes in the market, 
which aim thus, it would seem, to continue the old Cas- 
tilian tradition of a high instep. 

Would it be his plan to overawe us with his huge 
revolver, alone ? 

Or would he, at a preconcerted signal, be joined by 
confederates from the third-class car or a way-station, 
who would assist him to slaughter us ? 

The traveller is rare who arrives in Mexico for the 
first time without a head full of stories of violence. The 
numerous revolutions, the confused intelligence which 
reaches us from the country, give a color to anything of 
the kind ; and the stories retain their hold for a time 
even in the most frequented precincts. 

We got under way. The new arrival, instead of de- 
vouring us, proved the most amiable of persons, and 
w^e w^ere soon upon excellent terms with him. He was 
a wealthy young hacendado, or planter, returning to 
estates of his, on which he said six hundred hands were 
employed. He offered cigars, gave us details in answer 
to our eager curiosity about his novel dress ; and we had 
shortly even tried on — bride and all — the formidable 
sombrero, and learned that the price of such an one in 
the market is from $20 to $30. The silver-bound som- 
brero, and ornaments of coins, are a favorite kind of 
Mexican extravagance even among the lower classes, 


whi^h is perhaps accounted for by the lack of proper 
places of deposit for savings in other forms. 


It was moonlight. Sleep on such a night was out of 
the question. Not a foot of the scenery ought to be lost. 
But the padded coach was comfortable ; the fatigues of 
the day had been severe. The lively conversation became 
fitful, then lapsed into long silences. The events of that 
first night, half dozing, half waking, sometimes even 
alighting at the little stations, seem wholly like a dream 
— the waking part, if possible, stranger than the other. 

Palms and bananas and dense coffee shrubbery, with 
hamlets of thatched cottages sleeping peacefully among 
them ; a glimpse of a cataract ; an Indian mother sing- 
ing to her baby; perfumes coming in at the window; 
statuesque, silent men in blankets, and Moorish-looking 
women, offering fruits ; stations from the outer doors of 
which, when reached, no town was visible, but only an 
immense darkness ; persons taking coffee in lighted in- 
teriors; the dusky soldiers laughing loud in their com- 
partment ; a few startling words of English, sometimes 
with a Southern or even Hibernian accent, spoken by 
imported employes of the line meeting to exchange a 
comment, generally unfavorable, on their situation — 
these are the impressions that stamp themselves upon 
the memory. 

As soon as the first gray of daylight appears it seems 
incumbent on us to begin to admire the country. We 
are not far past Cordoba, the centre of its most impor- 
tant coffee-growing interest. 

^^Pouf!^^ says our friend, the hacendado, with an air 
of disdain. 


He will not take the trouble to look out of the win- 
dow. He expects things very much better. We have, 
in fact, passed remarkable scenes in the night, but the 
best is still before us, and presently begins. 

At a little station called Fortin we commence to wind 
along the side of one of the vast sudden gorges which 
impede travel in the country, the harranca of Metlac. 
There are horseshoe curves which almost permit the 
traditional feat in which the brakeman of the rear car 
is said to light his pipe at the locomotive. "We pass 
tunnels and trestle bridges, see our route above and be- 
low us on the hills in such varied ways that it is hardly 
possible to understand that these are not so many dif- 
ferent roads instead of the same. There is a point 
above Maltrata, distant but two and a half miles in a 
direct line, which must be reached by twenty miles of 

The history of this road, from the political point of 
view, presents hardly fewer obstacles and vicissitudes 
than those opposed by nature to its engineers. It has 
passed, in its time, under the rule of forty different pres- 
idencies, and lost and recovered its charter in the revolu- 
tions. Though of so moderate length it required over 
thirty years and $30,000,000 to build it. 

The passengers ran out at the small stations for flowers, 
with which we adorned ourselves. So, too, wreaths were 
hung about the neck of Cortez's horse in his progress, 
and a chaplet of roses upon his helmet. We gave the 
new bride heliotrope, roses, jasmine, and the splendid 
large scarlet flower — the tulipan — which may pass for 
the type of tropical beauty. 

The sun came up and lighted Orizaba, rising 17,375 
feet beside us to the right, making it first rosy-red, then 
golden. The peak is a perfect sugar-loaf in form, with 


nothing splintered and savage about it, as in Switzerland. 
It seems almost too tame at first — a sort of drawing-mas- 
ter's mountain — and, above the tropical landscape, is like 
snow in sherbet. The city of Orizaba is an important 
small place, the scene of a dashing surprise of the Mexi- 
cans by the French, at the hill of El Borrego. It has 
charming torrents, which furnish water-power for cotton 
and paper mills. One of these torrents, conveyed in an 
arched aqueduct, turns the machinery of the ingenio, or 
sugar plantation, of Jalapilla, once a country residence of 

A delegation of relatives had come down the night be- 
fore to await our young couple here. What embracing 
and chattering! A Mexican embrace has a character of 
its own. The parties fall upon each other's necks, as we 
are accustomed to see done on the stage. It is given, 
too, between mere acquaintances, almost as commonly as 
shaking hands. 

A vivacious sister-in-law aimed to give the new-comer 
an idea of what w^as before her in her future home. 
" Such flowers as I have in the court-yard !" she said, rais- 
ing her eyes, w^th an expressive gesture; "such oranges, 
camellias, azaleas ! Ah yes, indeed, I believe it well." 

" And Jack ?" inquired the husband, addressed as Pros- 
per; " how always goes poor Jack?" 

" Ah ! he is dead," replied the vivacious sister-in-law. 
" I regret to tell you, but so it is." 

It appeared that Jack w^as a favorite monkey, and for 
a moment his untimely fate cast a certain gloom over the 


From the heights where we were little villages, with 
squares of cultivated fields around them, w^ere seen at vast 


distances below, with the effect of those miniature topo- 
graphical preparations in relief displayed at international 

It greatly simplifies Mexico to remember that, in pro- 
file, it is a long, continuous mountain-slope, rising from 
the Atlantic to a central table-land, and falling, though 
more gradually, on the other side to the Pacific. Along 
the ascents, as well as at the top, are some benches, or 
level breathing-places. These table-lands are the chief 
seats of population, and they are utilized as much as 
possible for the lines of the north and south railways. 


This steep formation accounts for absence of navigable 
streams and for the existence of climates verging from 
tropical to temperate, nearly side by side. The sharpness 
of contrasts in climate is scarcely to be appreciated by 
the hasty voyager. The really tropical vegetation is suc- 
ceeded by a kind which to the eye of the American of 
the North is quite as exotic. Banana and cocoa-nut are 
followed by a hardy kind of fan -palm; by nopal, or 
prickly-pear, as large as the apple-tree with us ; by the 
tall, straight organ - cactus, in use for hedges; and the 
remarkable maguey, or century-plant. 

What would not some of our American conservatories 
or a certain well-known New York club give for some 
of these splendid specimens ! The spiky maguey, like a 
sheaf of sword-blades, grows eight and ten feet high. It 
is the typical production of the central table-land. Its 


sap furnishes in extraordinary quantities the beverage 
q^\\q& pulque — tlie wine of the countr3\ From it, in ad- 
dition, are made tliatch, fuel, rope, paper, and even stuffs 
for wearing appareh 

Our third-class passengers celebrated their Sdbado de 
Gloria with great spirit, by shouting, and firing pistols 
and Chinese crackers from the car windows. Teams of 
mules, with their load, whatever it' might be, gayly 
adorned, showed that it was being equally observed in 
the country. It is a day devoted by custom to the par- 
ticular abasement of Judas, who is treated as a kind of 
Guy Fawkes and dishonored in effigy. Tenders parade 
the streets with grotesque images of him, and children 
at this time estimate their fortune in the number of 
Judases they possess, just as at the season of All-Souls 
it is in cakes, gingerbread, and even more substantial 
viands, fashioned into death's-heads, cross-bones, and 

At Apizaco, the junction of a branch-road to Puebla, 
we met a merry excursion, decorated with rosettes and 
streamers. It had two mammoth Judases, stuffed with 
fire-works, one on the locomotive, the other on a baggage- 
car. The former was blown up, as a kind of compliment 
to us by way of exchange of ceremonies with our own 
train, amid hilarious uproar. 

We had now entered upon the central table-land of 
Mexico. Long, dotted, perspective lines of maize and 
maguey stretched to distant volcanic- looking hills. A 
few laborers in white cotton w^ere ploughing with wood- 
en ploughs, after the pattern of the ancient Egyptians. 
At the stations squads of a mounted rural police, in buff 
leather uniforms and crimson sashes, which give them 
a certain resemblance to Cromwell's troopers, salute the 



The sparse towns consist of a nucleus of excellently 
built old churches amid an environment of mud-colored 
habitations. They are in crying need of whitewash. 
Will they ever get it ? 

The face of the country was not the verdant paradise 
that may have been expected, but parched and brown. 


We had come at the end of the rainy season. Small 
columns of dust, whirling like water-spouts, were a con- 
stant feature of the landscape. A stage-coach going 
along a distant road was marked by its own dust, as a 
locomotive by its smoke. 

Isolated houses thei'e were none, with the exception 
of (at long intervals) some gloomy, square, fort-like ha- 
cienda, with straw-stacks and flocks and herds near it. 



Indian peasants offered for sale, all along the way, cakes 
spiced with green and red peppers. The village of 
Apam is the centre of the Bordelais of the j)ulque in- 
dustry. The new-comer here usually makes his first trial 
of that beverage, milk-like in aspect, but somewhat viscid 
and sour to the taste, with heady properties. It does not 
commend itself to favor on a first acquaintance. Wry 
and contemptuous grimaces are made over it, but in time, 
as occurred in my own case, it may become very palata- 
ble, as it is said to be healthful. It is poured into little 
earthen pitchers from bags of whole sheep-skins, with the 
w^ool-side in, like the wine-skins of the East and " Don 
Quixote." These bags, resembling dressed pigs, lie about 
on the ground or the freight-car, with their legs dumbly 
kicking up in the air, in many a grotesque attitude. 

But one glimpse of real Aztec antiquity along the way, 
and that at San Juan Teotihuacan, thirty miles from the 
capital. The deceptive shapes of the hills, which assume 
symmetrical forms, had frequently produced a throb of 
half self-delusion, but here are two genuine pagan teo- 
callis, pyramids dedicated to the sun and moon, and a 
great area covered with broken fragments and vestiges 
of tombs. It is thought to have been old and ruined 
even in the time of the Aztecs. Children offer at the 
train caritas, as they call them (" little faces "), and other 
fragments of earthen-ware, together with occasional pots 
and idols of large size, which they represent as having 
been dug up out of the soil. They have certainly been 
buried in the soil ; but later, finding that the manufact- 
ure of spurious antiquities is a thriving industry, one 
takes leave to question for what length of time. 

And yet, what can it matter? These ancient-seeming 
jars, with their symbols and images of the war-god and 
what not upon them, are at least unique and historically 


correct. One does well to bring home what he can get, 
for default of better, and not ask too many questions. 

San Juan is a place that one mentally makes a note 
of as to be returned to; and I spent some pleasant days 
there later, poking among the potsherds of the past, and 
picking up ordinary caritas and bits of flint weapons, for 


But no dallying now. The shades of evening draw 
on. We are \veary and travel-stained with the twenty 
hours' journey and the many excitements of the day; but 
the great moment is at hand. Gleams of distant water, 
thickets of maguey and cacti, with a peasant stealing 
mysteriously among them, behind a troop of donkeys! 
The geography picture is realized to the life. The water 
comes nearer; we skirt its borders. Can it be that these 
lonesome, shallow expanses, without vestige of sail or 
even skiff, their muddy shores white with a deposit of 
salt and alkali — can it be that these are the great lakes of 
Tenochtitlan, on which Cortez launched his brigantines? 
And the famous floating gardens, where are they? All 
in good time ! We shall see. The sacred hill of the 
Virgin of Guadalupe, with a cluster of interesting-looking 
churches upon it, is passed. Remains of ruined hacien- 
das and fortifications, and dilapidated adobe hovels, ap- 
pear. We run out upon a long, low causeway, skirted 
by the arches of an aqueduct, over marshes. Other sim- 
ilar causeways are seen converging from a distance. One 
had not expected to find everything so unrelievedly flat. 
It is like climbing the mountain to find the Louisiana 
lowlands. A chain of yet higher mountains surrounds 
it, it is true ; the snowy summits of Popocatepetl and its 
mate, the White Woman, always shine upon it from a 


distance, but Mexico itself is a basin. It has been under 
water, and would be yet, but for artificial works by 
which the lakes have been made to recede and left 
behind them these alkali-whitened margins. 

It is a disillusionment very like that of approaching 
Yenice at low tide. 




There was a custom-house at the Bueua Yista station. 
Part of its profits are nationalj part municipaL The cap- 
ital is in a Federal District, ruled by a governor, not un- 
like the District of Columbia. There is little inter-state 
comity as yet among the different parts of the republic. 
Each state still collects dues at its own frontiers, and the 
towns take tolls (the alcabalas) on merchandise and food 
entering their gates. 

Mexico is not a cheap city of abode. Its hackney- 
coaches, as in European countries as well, are an excep- 
tion to the general rule ; but even these, with the various 
commissionaires, who zealously aid you in putting your 
baggage upon them, after getting it through the custom- 
house, are dear for the first time. Travelling is like so 
many other things in the world : you pa}^ a bonus, or in- 
itiation fee, in the beginning, after which the charges 
are in a declining series. The particular hackney-coach 
which conveyed us, a travelling companion and myself, 
may have been a trifle dearer on account of a driver who 
aspired to a few words of English. Xot that we greatly 
wanted it. The injury to one's feelings in these cases of 
the indifferent reception by the native of your first over- 
tures in his own language (as if his own language were 
not good enough for him, forsooth), is sufficient, without 


a pecuniary burden added. But he charged for it, as I 

"Well, good -night," he said, saluting us as patrons. 
" Wass you wants?" And, after having passed the long, 
shady strip of park called the Alameda, he even ventured 
upon a certain facetiousness, as, "Wills you to want a 
wiskey ?" 

He had learned this proud acquirement in the military 
service on the frontiers of Texas. 

A long, dark ride conveyed us to the principal hotel. 
As it was once the palace of the Emperor Iturbide, after 
whom it is named, it should have something stately about 
it, and so it has. There is a high, sculptured door-way, of 
an Aztec touch in the design, though not in the details, 
and long, grotesque water-spouts project into the street. 
Within is a large, dark, arcaded court, from which open 
cafe and billiard-room, the leading resort of the golden 
youth of the town. 

The office is a dark little box of a place, with two seri- 
ous functionaries, who seem to receive the visitor only 
with suspicion. The gorgeous and affable hotel clerk of 
northern latitudes is unknown. In the rear are more 
courts, not arcaded ; and around all of these the rooms 
are ranged in several stories. 

It is not so late on the evening of his arrival but that 
the traveller may, after dinner, still take a stroll. He 
will be apt to fancy at first, from the quietude, that his 
hotel is not on a principal street ; but it is in the most 
central part of the city — on the street which, with three 
others running parallel for say half a mile, and the in- 
cluded cross-streets, contain the principal retail traffic. 

It is an early discovery that Mexico is a grave and 
not a gay city. There are no crowds on the sidewalks, 
no eating of ices in public, no cafes chantants^ nothing 


Parisian. Bj nine or ten o'clock the people seem to have 
retired, perhaps to be up betimes in the morning for the 
work of the day. A military band plays three evenings 
in the week, but even these concerts, except on Sundays, 
are so sparsely attended that the men seem discoursing 
the music for their own amusement. 

Policemen are stationed at short intervals apart in the 
quiet streets, with their lanterns set in the middle of 
the roadway. They are obliged, by regulation, to signal 
their wliereabouts every quarter of an hour. The sound 
of their whistles, which have a shrill, doleful note, like 
that of a November wind, is heard repeated from one to 
another all the night through. 


As Mexico has not, until lately, at any rate, expected 
tourists, there are almost none of the usual appurtenances 
for their pleasure and information to be met with. While 
this may have its annoyances, if an ardent curiosity be 
baffled too long, on the other hand freedom from the 
sense of responsibility to exacting Baedekers and Mur- 
rays has advantages of its own. The visitor with an eye 
for the picturesque dips into a delicious feast of novel- 
ties, makes discoveries on every hand, and has the pleas- 
ure of testing the value of his own unaided conclusions. 
By daylight, with all its bright colors upon it, and its 
normal stir of life going on, the famous capital is a very 
different place from what it was at night. By little and 
little misapprehensions are shaken off. After the first 
moments of disappointment we like it always more in- 
stead of less, and in the end it takes a powerful hold. 

Here at length is the great central plaza, in which 
events of such moment have been transacted. To actu- 


ally sit down upon a bench in the midst of it, and gaze 
comfortably about — can it be possible ? 

The imposing cathedral makes a new pyramid on the 
spot where once stood the pyramid of the Aztec war-god. 
These stones should be ankle-deep with all the blood of 
various sorts that has been spilled upon them. For a 
moment one renews the pagan superstition. I would 
gladly see set up again, for a brief instant, old Hutzilo- 
potchli, the war- god, aloft on his ancient terrace, hear 
the beat of the lugubrious war-drum, and see the mourn- 
ful procession of captives winding up to the sacrifice, in 
charge of the sinister priests with their black locks flow- 
ing down upon their shoulders. 

But not one instant too long. What ! hideous priests, 
you will indeed lay them down on the sacrificial stone, 
and raise the knives of flint above their bared breasts for 
the monstrous slaughter? Not one hair of their heads 
shall be harmed. San Jago and Spain ! When was Cas- 
tilian ever known to turn his back upon a foe? Up the 
pyramid we go, leaping from step to step, though with 
no better weapon than a sun-umbrella in hand, to their 
deliverance. Ay, howl if you will, baffled miscreants, 
and rattle your spears and arrows like hail upon us! 
Down with your old Hutzilopotchli till he crashes in 
fragments below there. Your carven sacrificial stone 
shall be set up in the court-yard of the Academy of 
Fine Arts of San Carlos for this, and your great calen- 
dar-stone, a show-piece, against the side of the cathedral. 

It is a good day's work. I estimate that there were in 
that train of captives not less than a hundred souls ! 

But it is hard to conjure up images of desperate con- 
flicts, though there have been so many, in this bright 
sunshine, with the multitude of pretty, novel sights. On 
one side of the square a beneficent institution, the Na- 


tional Loan Establish m en t, occupies what was once the 
site of the palace of Cortez ; on another, the long, white, 
monotonous National Palace, the site of that of Monte- 
zuma. In the centre is a charming little garden, with 
benches, the Zocalo. 

The cathedral, like most of the earlier architecture, is 
in the Renaissance style, far gone to the vagaries of ro- 
coco. It is saved from finicality, however, by its great 
size and massiveness, except in respect to tlie termina- 
tions of its towers, which are in the shape of immense 
bells. Adjoining, and forming a part of it, is a parish 
church, in a rich, dark-red volcanic stone, with carving 
that recalls the fantastic fagades of Portuguese Belem. 
What a painting it would make, on one of the perfect 
moonlight nights, which bring out every line of the 
sculpture softly, and show the whole like a lovely vision ! 

There are little book-stalls in front, and gay booths de- 
voted to the sale of refreshing drinks — agiias nevadas — 
from large, simple jars and pitchers of most noble and 
pleasing shapes. The drinks are dispensed by dusky 
Juanas and Josefas of Indian blood, with straight black 
braids of hair down their backs. With a characteristic 
taste the fronts of their booths are often wholly studded 
and banked up with flowers, and furnished with inscrip- 
tions formed in letters of carnation pinks and blue corn- 

Figures go by in blankets which one hankers to take 
from them ioY portieres or rugs. The men of the poorer 
sort wear or carry, universally, the serape — a blanket with 
a slit in the centre for the insertion of the head. Apart 
from its artistic patterns, it is a useful garment in many 
emergencies. It is not the moot improbable thing in the 
world that, in the course of the Mexican revival, we may 
yet see it introduced in the States, and running a course 


of popularity like the ulster. The corresponding gar- 
ment of the women is the rebozo^ a shawl or scarf, gen- 
erally of blue cotton, which, crossed over the head and 
lower part of the face, gives a Moorish appearance. The 
background of life here seems more like opera than sober 
existence. Two other sides of the square are occupied 
by long arcades, among the merchants of which, pro- 
tected from the sun and rain, one may wander by the 
hour, watching the shrewd devices of trade, and picking 
up those knickknacks, trifling in the country of their 
origin, which are certain to be curiosities elsewhere. 
From time to time pass across the view, dark and Egyp- 
tian-like, in a peculiar dress of bluish woollen, trudging 
under heavy burdens, Indians w^ho have yet preserved 
the tradition of their race. Followed to their homes, 
they are found to dwell, among the ruined walls of the 
outskirts, in adobe huts which can have changed little 
since the time of the Conquest. 

These genuine Aztecs have peculiarly soft, pleasant 
voices, in contrast with the Spanish voice, which is apt 
to be harsh. They are shiftless and squalid, but their 
manners are above their surroundings. It is a favorite 
way with the Mexican to say, " This is your house ;" and 
I have had said to me on being introduced, " Well, now, 
remember! number so-and-so, such a street, is your 

Having looked into one of these Indian abodes, and 
asked an elderly woman, by way of making talk, if it 
were hers, she replied, " Yes, Senor, and yours also." 

Neither in the Zocalo nor the Alameda (a park, which 
holds somewhat the position of the Common, in Boston), 
are there trees with the hoary antiquity one might expect 
in such time-honored places. But it appears that the set- 
ting out of the trees, and the formation of the Zocalo 


entirely, is of modern date, the work of Maximilian, a 
monarch who, in his short, ill-fated reign, had many 
excellent projects. 

The Zocalo is occasionally allowed to be enclosed, and 
an admission-fee charged, for select festivities. The ora- 
tions were delivered there, for instance, on the national 
festival of the 5th of May. When I first arrived a flow- 
er-show was in progress. I have never seen anything 
more charming of the sort. Our florists might get a 
score of new ideas for the arrangement of bouquets. 
Strawberries were introduced into some for effects of 
color. Little streamers with gallant mottoes floated from 
others. There were lanterns, and birds in cages. A mil- 
itary band played, and people promenaded — dandies with 
silver-braided hats, stout duennas, and fathers of families, 
and slender, lithe senoritas, wearing the graceful mantilla 
instead of the Paris bonnet. 

In front of the Zocalo a permanent flower market is 
held every morning, which is almost as pleasing. 

Tramway cars run out of the plaza in numerous direc- 
tions. The city early utilized this invention, and boasts 
of having one of the most complete systems existing. 
The inscriptions on them have an attractive look. One 
would like to take all the different routes at once. Pa- 
tience ! it is all accomplished in time. Shall we go to 
Guadalupe Hidalgo, with its treasures and its miraculous 
Virgin ; to Tacubaya and San Angel, with their villas ; 
Dolores, with its pensive cemetery, full of sculptures ; La 
Yiga, with its picturesque canal, giving access to the chi- 
narrupas of flowers and vegetables; the gates of Belem 
and Nino Perdido, familiar in the story of the Ameri- 
can conquest; Chapultepec? Yes, that shall be the very 
first — Chapultepec, theatre of exploits of American valor 
and of moving events in every historic epoch. 


Mexico is extraordinarily flat, and laid out as regularly 
at right angles as our own symmetrical towns. At the 
ends of all the streets the view is closed by mountains. 
Its flatness, together with its position in reference to the 
adjoining lakes, are circumstances which have occasioned 
great solicitude in the past, and still call for almost as 
much, on a different ground. Formerly it was danger of 
inundation ; now it is defective drainage. Bad odors 
offend the nostrils, and stagnant gutters and heaps of 
garbage the sight, of the wayfarer about the interesting 

le\ el of ■ 

' LAKE TE/ coco 


The drainage problem, divested of the mystery with 
which it has been surrounded in learned treatises, is 
simply this. When the vast slope from the sea has been 
surmounted, and the Yalley of Mexico — as high as the 
Swiss pass of St. Gotliard — is reached, it is found to be 
a shallow depression, containing six lakes. These are of 
many different levels— Texcoco the largest and lowest. 
On the edge of Texcoco, or in the midst of it, like an- 
other Venice, with canals for streets, was built ancient 
Mexico. This principal lake received the overflow of the 
others, and the city was subject to frequent inundations. 
It is even now, after a large shrinkage in the lakes, but 
a little more than six feet, at its central portion, above 
Texcoco. The waters of the three upper lakes — San Cris- 
toval, Xaltocan, and Zumpango — were turned back as 


has been done with the Chicago Eiver of late. A great 
Spanish drain in the early seventeenth century, the Tajo 
of Nochistongo, was cut through the mountains, and got 
rid of it in the direction of the Atlantic. 

But Texcoco itself has no outlet, and, as experience 
has proved, even with only Chalco and Xochimilco to be 
taken care of, is still liable to overflow. With relief 
from this peril is inseparably bound up the drainage 
problem. Tlie fall is so slight at best, that though Lake 
Texcoco be preserved at a normal level, and kept from 
backing up into the sewers, there is no destination for 
the sewage received by it, which lies festering in the 
stagnant water. With the rest is complicated also the 
irrigation of the valley. No end of plans have been 
offered to resolve these difficulties. Their history would 
make an interesting chapter by itself. Some have pro- 
posed to pump out the lake by steam ; others, to inter- 
cept the waters running into it, and allow it to dry up 
naturally ; another, to exhaust it by means of a great 
siphon of stone and cement. But the judgment of most 
is in favor of establishing a current, through a canal, to 
some point lower than the lake; and the mountains in 
the neighborhood have been searched for the most favor- 
able point of exit for such a canal. 

The plan was officially adopted, in fact, and a consid- 
erable beginning made, under the direction of an able 
engineer of foreign education, Don Francisco Garay. 
But the works were allowed to languish. Neither gov- 
ernment nor community seemed more than half-hearted 
in the effort to get rid of evils to which they had so long 
been used. The problem still remains one of the most 
pressing of those to be resolved, and one of the most 
interesting to foreigners intending to make Mexico their 



Choosing any street at random where all are so attrac- 
tive, and proceeding to its termination, in this direction 
or that, yon arrive now at a mere cul-de-sac, now at a 
citj gate, now at vestiges of adobe fortifications, with a 
moat. Few vehicles, apart from the hackney-coaches, are 
to be seen, but plenty of troops of laden donkeys, and 
everyw^iere the cotton-clad natives themselves bearing 
loads under which the regular beasts of burden might 
stagger. There is a story that when wheelbarrows were 
first introduced to their notice on the railroad works, the 
natives filled them in the usual way, and then carried 
them on their backs. 

Each separate kind of business has its distinctive em- 
blem. The butcher — elsewhere not a person noted for 
great taste in ornament — displays a crimson banner, and 
has his brass scales decked with rosettes. His supplies 
are brought him by a mule, trotting along with quarters 
of beef or carcasses of mutton on each side hung from 
hooks. But it is especially the, pulque shops (correspond- 
ing to our corner liquor stores) w^hich devote themselves 
to decoration in its most florid form. Not one so poor 
as to be without its great colored tumblers, and ambitious 
fresco of a battle scene, or subject from mythology or 
romance. They delight in such titles as " The Ancient 
Glories of Mexico," " The Famous St. Lorenzo," " The 
Sun For All," " The Terrestrial Paradise," and even 
" The Delirium," which often enough expresses the con- 
dition of customers who imbibe too freely. 

On the tramways pass not only passenger- cars, but 
others for freight. They move the household goods of 
a family, for instance. There are also impressive cata- 




falqiies and mourn ing-cars, running smoothly along, with 
funeral processions. You may graduate from a hearse 
with six horses, driver, lackey, and four pall-bearers, all 
in livery, for $120, to one drawn by a single mule for 
$3 ; and there are cars for the mourners in the grand 
style at $12 and plain for $4. 

Both these ideas, it would seem, might be advanta- 
geously adopted by suburban lines of our own. 

Presently comes by a more economical funeral — a 
couple of jyeons (as the Indian laborers are called), at a 
jog-trot, bearing a pine coffin on their shoulders. 

Battered old churches and convents on a great scale, 
and of a grand architecture, now for the most part de- 
voted to other purposes, are extraordinarily frequent. 
Before the sequestration of Church propertj^ — in the war 
called of the Keform, under Juarez, in 1859 — Mexico was 
well-nigh one great ecclesiastical estate. AVithout going 
into the religious question, and supposing only the opera- 
tion of ordinary causes, it is easy to see how the Church 
corporations — repositories of the gifts of the faithful, 
moved by no feverish haste in speculation, and with no 
reckless heirs to spend their gains — must in course of 
time have become possessed of an enormous share of 
worldly goods. 

There is no lack of sculptured old rococo palaces, of 
the conquerors and their successors, either. Many of 
these are of a peculiar, rich red stone, with carved es- 
cutcheons above their door-ways. There is one of which 
I was fond, in the Calle de Jesus, with immense water- 
spouts to its cornice, in the shape of field-pieces. Wheels 
and all project in high relief. 

Only infinitesimal quantities of vacant land exist with- 
in the compass of the city. All is compactly built. The 
Continental system of portes cooheres and interior court- 




yards prevails. How many glimpses, both pleasing and 
curious, into these interiors! What a pity that the se- 
verity of our winters prevents building in a style which 
would be so admirably adapted to our summers ! Over 
the entrances of some tenement-houses are placed pious 
dedicatory signs, as " Casa de la Santisima," " Casa de la 
Divina Providencia." 

One day, as I made a hasty sketch of one of these, with 
a water-carrier lying asleep in the archway, the custodian 
came out and offered strenuous objections. ''You are 
mapping the house" {mappando la casa), he said, "and I 
do not see how it can be for other than evil purposes." 


One of the most charming of all the mansions I saw 
stood nearly opposite our hotel, and was faced up entirely 
with china tiles, chiefly blue and white, and set with old 
bronze balconies, as dainty and quaint as a dwelling in 
fairy-land. I examined the interior of this house also, 
and found it faced within as well with the same sim- 
ple, Moorish-looking, tiles, in staircase walls, ceilings, and 
even the high, banked-up furnace, or range, in the kitch- 
en. An affable major-domo occupied his leisure with 
painting, in a large library on the ground-floor. He was 
just now engaged in copying and enlarging, very poorly, 
the photograph of a lady, over which he held up his 
brush for criticism. A maroon carpet was laid up the 
centre of a grand staircase, and the same uniform color 
prevailed in the carpets throughout. The rooms were 
large and high, the principal ones opening both on the 
street, and, by means of light glass doors draped with 
lace, on the balconies running around the courts. These 
balconies are edged in the general practice with climbing 
vines and rows of handsome plants. In one of the rear 
courts could be heard and seen the family carriage-horses, 
together with others for the saddle, stabled according to 
custom under the common roof. 

There was a large saloon, with divans, and old-fashioned 
mirrors, sloped forward from the walls, instead of pier- 
glasses; and a little boudoir, with furniture entirely in 
gilded wood and cane. There was a pretty family chapel, 
with two prie-dleux for the master and mistress, and a 
couple of benches for the use of the servants. In the 
bedrooms of such houses are usually religious pictures, 
copies of Murillo and the like ; and there are also found 
quaint effigies of sacred things, as a representation of the 
Nativity ; a Christ, with purple mantle and crown of 
thorns; a life-size Virgin, in raiment of tissue of silver, 


standing upon the globe and a serpent's head. The men 
of the country are very widely imbued with the sceptical 
spirit of the age, but the women, whose property these 
objects are, are still devoutly Catholic. 

These rooms, in such interiors, though less lofty and 
impressively finished perhaps than those at Havana, have 
not the complexity of objects with which we, in an ill- 
understood passion for decoration, overload our own in 
the United States. They are large, and contain a few 
simple articles, with plenty of space around, and have an 
unmistakable dignity of effect. When we can make up 
our minds to do that, instead of depending upon a com- 
plication of costly rarities in little space, we shall begin 
to be palatial, and not merely hon hourgeois. 

We do not know how republican we are, after all our 
travelling abroad and reverence for things European, till 
we come to where the stately old Continental traditions 
are actually in force. 

One of the enthusiasts of the new progressive move- 
ment, writing of late of Monterey, a city of 40,000 peo- 
ple, in the north, already connected with us by the Mexi- 
can Central Railway, and coming into notice as a winter 
resort, notes, as one of the signs of improvement, that 
" the old Latin style of building, the square, flat-roofed 
house, with interior court, is giving place, in the new 
quarters, to American architecture." To which 1 reply. 
Heaven forbid ! Let us never " improve " away with 
"American architecture" the Moorish-looking dwellings 
which, to lovers of the picturesque, should be one of the 
principal inducements for visiting the country. 



Meanwhile the court-yard of our hotel, the palace of 
the ancient Emperor Itnrbide, is full of a curious group 
of English-speaking foreigners, discussing a multitude of 
projects. They sit usually in chairs on a little terrace at 
the left of the court, behind which is a modest little 
parlor, with a piano. As a general rule, the Mexican ho- 
tel is without parlor, reading-room, or any other of those 
appurtenances we are accustomed to look upon as an es- 
sential part of the composition of a hotel. 

The guests take their meals at a restaurant, entered 
from the second court, or at other restaurants in the town 
where they please, there being no provision by the hotel 
itself. Tliey look up wearily at their rooms around the 
circumscribing galleries, push their hats on the back of 
their heads, and pass their hands across their brows. The 
atmosphere, at this elevation of 7600 feet, is very rare, 
it will be remembered, and most are affected at first by a 
feeling of dizziness and loss of appetite. They do not 
find themselves quite right in health ; and even the most 
athletic pause once or twice, and hold by the balusters, 
on their way up-stairs. The same amount of exercise 
cannot be taken, in fact, by either men or animals, as 
in a more dense atmosphere. The horses, for instance, 
though good and speedy, can only be run short distances, 
and then, as evaporation is rapid and draughts particu- 


larly dangerous, must not be let stand, but must be 
walked up and down till gradually cooled. 

I recollect my first glimpse of my room, to which, after 
an interview with the sepulchral clerks below, I was 
shown by the barefooted boy, " Pancho," carrying a tal- 
low dip. It was without w^indows or other opening ex- 
cept through a large transom above the door, and seemed 
hot and suffocating. This may have been the influence 
of imagination, however, for the climate is rarely either 
hot or cold, but noted for its remarkable evenness. 
There is no provision for heating during the winter. It 
is said that even after a very few minutes of fire, in 
stove or grate, the already thin air becomes so much far- 
ther expanded as to produce discomfort. Later, in my 
long stay at this hotel, I had a room higher up, on the 
sculptured front, looking down upon the life in the thor- 
oughfare, which, taking a separate name at every block, 
is here the Calle de San Francisco. Again, I had one 
with a window commanding the shining, tile-covered 
dome and part of a garden approach to the lovely old 
convent of San Francisco, now dev^oted to the uses of an 
Episcopal mission, and beyond that the mountains, with 
the fair blue sky above them. Kising to begin the day, 
the mornings were found peaceful and lovely, the genial 
sunshine bathing tlie prospect, the blue sky but varied 
with the piled-up clouds out of which castles in the air 
are constructed. The visitor, having got over his tem- 
porary oppression, remarks upon this almost unbroken 
series with increasing wonder and admiration. It is 
hardly the custom to comment on the weather in Mex- 
ico, at least in the agreeable season, though the rainy 
season is a different matter. 

"A pleasant day?" says the listener, with lifted eye- 
brows, should you do so. " Well, why not V 



Most familiar 
among the group 
of English-speak- 
ing foreigners in 
the court-yard dur- 
ing my stay was 
General Grant, 
who has lent a 
part of his great 
fame to the devel- 
opment of the re- 
sources of a much- 
snffering people. 
Did he ever reflect 
in these historic 
halls, one wonder- 
ed, on the career 
of the Emperor 
Iturbide? Had all 
the talk on Caesar- 
ism in the Press 
ever put the idea the least bit in his head? Rumors, 
mischievous to the cause of amity, ran at the very time 
that it was in Mexico, not the United States, that he pro- 
posed to found his empire. Certainly it would be difti- 
cult to imagine so un melodramatic a figure in the robes 
and stars and crosses in which Iturbide has arrayed him- 
self, after the pattern of Napoleon the Great, in his por- 
trait at the ^sTational Palace. 

Iturbide wrote in his memoirs — which, as a display of 
egotism, are highly interesting reading — one sagacious 
sentence. " Devotees of theories," he says, " are apt to 
forget that in the moral as in the physical order only a 
gradual progress can be expected." 




This is very true ; but the short-lived Emperor forgot, 
as have many of his republican successors, that despotism 
can never edu- 
cate the citizen 
for the duties of 

Only once be- 
fore — namely, 
on the coming 
of Maximilian — 
has there been a 
stir that might 
be compared to 
the present in a 
country which 
the progress of 
the century has 

heretofore seemed to ignore. 
Could a secure government then 
have been established, much 
would have been done. But the 
new-comers arrived as masters, 
not as friends ; and the condi- 
tions were wholly unfavorable. 
The real improvements, too, apart 
from those intended for the glit- 
ter and the comfort of the throne, 
were but the shadow of those 
proposed to-day. 

Here the more efficient light- 
ing of the city by electric light 

was heard discussed ; there the opening of coal mines ; 
here the establishment of sugar refineries, shoe factories, 
cotton mills. There were archaeologists, constructors of 





telegraph lines, and engineers starting out or returning 
from reconnoissances. This person had come down to 
look into coffee - plantations ; that, 
to establish a new line of steamers. 
This discourses of the improving 
tranquillity of the country, and as- 
serts that three ploughs are now 
sold to one revol- 
ver. He names 
over prominent 
bandits who have 
become peaceable 
contractors and 

Some will or- 
ganize banks of 
issue, and rid us 
of the cumbrous 
silver dollar. An- 
other is up from 
the interior with 
a scheme for a colony and mines — much too rose-colored, 
one would say — with which he will start back to New 
York to organize a syndicate. Mines of gold and silver 
are one of the specialties of the country ; but they seem 
to present fully the uncertainties of mines elsewhere. 

Some organized dinners, at which Mexican senators and 
deputies were enlisted for the cultivation of more friendly 
relations. These were held at the Concordia restaurant, 
or the Tivoli of Bucarelli, or of the Eliseo (summer gar- 
dens), with spacious banqueting halls. Much internation- 
al good-feeling was manifested, and the Mexican national 
anthem and the " Star Spangled Banner" were played 
alternately after the speeches. Everything was to be 




made over anew. A few of the younger men were go- 
ing and returning from expeditions of pleasure. They 
came back from a bull-fight ; from the baths of Alberca 
Pane, where there is a fine tank for swimming, covered 
with an awning; or the theatre. They had many an 
amusing gibe, after our American way, on the backward- 
ness of things, and the difference of manners and cus- 
toms in the country. 

But pleasure had as yet few votaries; the object of 
most was serious work. The business of railroad-build- 
ing, and procuring of charters and subventions from 
government, threw all else into the shade. Five great 
lines, two of which had already 
made long strides, were to trav- ^---'- " ~'^ ^ 
erse the country from north to 
south, and more than twice as 
many from east to west, connect- 
ing the oceans. 
There were said 
to be six hun- 
dred American 
engineers in 
Mexico. They 
are often young 
graduates of 
Cornell and oth- 
er polytechnic 
schools. In the 
capital the en- 
gineers and em- 


ployes form set- 
tlements in boarding-houses of their own ; make resorts 
of certain economical restaurants where little but English 
is spoken. They associate but little with the natives. 


but go about their work rather rongh-and-ready in ap- 
pearance, and seem to postpone adornment till the heat 
and burden of the campaign are over. There was a 
noticeable Southern element among them ; and it will 
be found, generally, that the enterprises in Mexico have 
attracted a large representation from the Southern States. 
There is still, among the rest, a remnant of the ex-Con- 
federate officers who came hither after the war, to engage 
— without great success, as it happened — in coffee-plant- 
ing and the like. 

Not a few of the young engineers, however, particu- 
larly those who have their field of operations in the 
provinces, have already found wives among the slender 
senoritas of the country. It seems another case of going 
after the women of Moab, as it were, for the rumor 
comes back that these exacting helpmeets have often 
made them change their religion, as a preliminary to 
naming the happy day. 


A leading point with the projectors, is whether or not 
Mexico is likely to become a large or metropolitan city. 
It seems difficult, when on the ground, to doubt it. 
Great cities have sprung up at a mere intersection of 
railroads. But here is one with a population of 250,000 
people already, a seat of government and of schools, col- 
leges, museums, and galleries of fine arts, with an ad- 
mirable climate and extraordinary scenery, and three 
hundred and sixty years and traditions of great fascina- 
tion behind it. There are to come into or connect with 
it, when all is complete, the Mexican Central, National, 
and International roads, from the north ; the Mexican 
Oriental, on the eastern seaboard, and Occidental, on the 
western ; and General Grant's road, the Mexican South- 


ern, from the south — all to have interoceanic branches 
and feeders; the Morelos road, the Acapulco road, the 
English road to Vera Cruz ; another, now constructing, 
to the same point by Puebla and Jalapa; and a number 
of short lines of less importance. 

A small portion only of this would be sufficient to 
create a metropolis outright, while Mexico has grown to 
a certain greatness with no advantages at all — not even 
wagon -roads. It seems its manifest destinj^, with its 
central position on transcontinental lines, and its estab- 
lished prestige, to become the chief depository and place 
of exchange for the whole country. It ought to be a 
favorable point, too, for manufactures, and to become the 
metropolitan residence of the w^ealthy from the interior. 
These have rarely come to the capital heretofore. Not 
even the senators and deputies bring their families, own- 
ing to the barbarous state of the roads. The existing 
difficulties of communication can hardly be conceived. 
There are perfectly authentic accounts of persons who 
have gone from Mexico to Vera Cruz, thence to New 
York, thence across to San Francisco, and thence by 
Pacific mail-steamer to Acapulco, rather than make the 
direct journey of three hundred miles on mule -back 
over the sierra. 

It is fair to say, however, that there are those who 
think the future metropolis may be farther to the north, 
as at San Luis Potosi. 

If Mexico, then, is to be a great city, whither is it to 
spread ? It is compactly built within, and much of the 
land about it is low, traversed by causeways. There is 
no better place to think about it, nor to look down upon 
the capital as a whole, than Chapultepec. 

My first visit there was made on the tramway, where I 
fell in with a Mexican colonel, who told me that he liked 


the Americans very well. He had spent some time in 
captivity among them, having been taken prisoner at 
San Jacinto, and had learned to know them as they are. 
They mean well, he said, and are enterprising and appre- 
ciative of the arts of life ; and you can depend upon what 
they say. Most of his countrymen, he said, very sensibly, 
did not understand this, but were distrustful and jeal- 
ous. Their idea of American character, in fact, is largely 
derived from foreign books in which it is conventional- 
ized and caricatured in an unfriendly way. There is evi- 
dence of it on every hand. The American, as touched 
upon in the newspapers and current literature, is the 
*' Yankee" of Dickens and followers of less intelligence 
on the Continent. He is a sordid person, exclusivel}^ 
wrapped up in " dollars," and can know but little of the 
chivalrous nature of those who thus superciliously disap- 
prove of him. 

There is nothing very warlike about Chapultepec at 
present. A glimpse is got, as you approach, of a light, 
oblong, colonnaded edifice, with a lookout on the top, 
which is now a part of the government observatory. 
The hill is not precipitously high, though of a good ele- 
vation. There is a monument at its foot to the memory 
of the pupils of the military school who fell in its defence 
in 1847, and in the grounds moss-grown cypresses and a 
tank of clear water. I found the main part of the build- 
ing, when an upper terrace was reached, in a state of ruin. 
The light iron columns of an arcade had been coquettish- 
ly painted and gilded, and its walls decorated in the Pom- 
peian style, under Maximilian, but all had been wrecked 
in the revolutions. There was a little garden, in which 
a small guide picked me some flowers. He answered, 
" Quien sale .^" in a childish lisp, to most inquiries, just 
as his father, the custodian, if he had been there, would 




have answered in his deeper base. " Quien sale f " (Who 
knows?) is a more dreamy and speculative rendering of 
our own " Give it up," or perhaps " Dunno !" 

The most prominent object, in the long line of the 
distant city against the bright gleam of Lake Texcoco 
behind it, is a sudden little volcanic hill — El Penon — 
which rises out of it like a teocalli ; and next to this the 

As the lay of the land is studied from here it seems 
rather natural that the city of the future, on grounds of 
good drainage, ease of access, and scenery, should advance 
in this direction to Chapultepec, ex-palace of the Monte- 
zumas and of viceroys, military school, fortress, and ob- 
servatory, on the foremost spur of the foot-hills. 

This was the intelligent forecast of Maximilian — a 
ruler, it must be admitted, much better fitted to cope 
with such pleasant matters than the ferocity of Mexi- 
can war and diplomacy. And such was the view of a 
rather wild-cat American Improvement Company, found 
among the projectors in the court-yard, which professed 
to intend a large purchase of land for building upon, to 
sell part of it, with houses, on the instalment plan, and to 
put up a mammoth hotel. 

It seemed a little incongruous, this selling of the heri- 
tage of Montezuma on the instalment plan ; but we are 
a people who do not stop even at the most venerable of 
traditions; and the scheme might not be a bad one in 
responsible hands. 

Maximilian also made Chapultepec his summer palace, 
and laid out to it the handsome Paseo de la Reforma, the 
afternoon drive and promenade — the Bois and Central 
Park of fashionable Mexico. During Lent, however, 
fashion takes the caprice of changing to the Paseo de la 
Yiga, along the canal by which vegetables and flowers 


are brought to the capital from the floating gardens. 
The Paseo de la Reforma is a wide, straight boulevard, 
nearly two miles long, starting from a certain equestrian 
statue of Charles lY. of Spain — the first bronze cast in 
this hemisphere, and fine and excellent work. It is two 
hundred feet wide, and has a double row of trees — euca- 
lyptus and ash — shading its sidewalks. The Mexican 
equestrian dandy should be observed as he curvets his 
horse along it among the fine carriages. He wears now 
not only his weighty spurs and silver-braided sombrero, 
but a cutlass at his saddle-bow, and larger revolvers than 
ever. Kot that there is need of them, since a couple of 
mounted carbineers — of whom there seems no great need 
either — are stationed at nearly every hundred yards ; but 
they are a part of his peculiar display. Some of our 
young Americans, too, in the country, it must be said, 
almost out -Mexican the Mexicans themselves, carrying 
all their customs to an exaggerated extreme. 

There are to be six circles, with statues, spaced at 
proper intervals along tlie way. The first, containing a 
fine Columbus, is finished ; a Gnatemozin, for the sec- 
ond, is in progress. The next, it is said, will contain 
Cortez. There at last will stand, face to face — their 
countrymen now one people — the heroic defender and 
the heroic conqueror, the two characters of such contra- 
dictory traits within themselves, who both acted accord- 
ing to their lights in their day and generation, and but 
followed the path of inevitable destiny. 

The causeways of La Veronica and La Romita — con- 
taining ancient small-arched aqueducts, which bring water 
to the city — branch off from Chapultepec, and form two 
sides of an obtuse triangle, which the Paseo (or Calzada) 
de la Reforma bisects. It was along these causeways that 
the Americans ran, in that invasion of a very different 


character, in 1847. It is said that as Shields was chare:- 
ing on that to the right, after the fall of the castle, Scott, 
fearing his imprudent haste, sent to detain him. The 
aide had got as far as the preliminary "General Scott pre- 
sents his compliments, and begs to say — " when Shields, 
apprehending the message, cut him short with, " I have 
no time for compliments now," and hurried on, and got 
into the city before he could be overtaken. 

Do the Mexicans bear us a grudge for all that ? Tliej- 
seem just now to have amiably forgotten it. and far be it 
from me to revive such memories in a boasting spirit. 
There is a behind-the-scenes to it, here, upon the ground. 
It is pathetic, and by no means calculated to pro- 
duce complacency, to read in the small history studied 
in the schools the Mexican account of what took place. 
The almost unbroken series of defeats from which they 
went up, without hope of success, to the slaugliter are 
frankly admitted. The country was torn by internal dis- 
sensions. The generals went back from the field to put 
down or sustain governments, refused to aid one another 
in their operations, and availed themselves of the troops 
given them to seize upon power, instead of fighting the 
Americans. There were not less than eleven changes of 
government, chiefly violent, during the short course of 
the war. In February and March of the year in which, 
in September, the invaders made their entry there had 
been fighting in the streets of the capital for well-nigh a 
month between two presidents, neither strong enough to 
put the other down. Want of courage is not a Mexican 
failing. It was want of leaders, unity, everything that 
gives steadiness in a great crisis. 

The land ostensibly aimed at by the so-called Improve- 
ment Company follows the Calzada of the Reform for 
a considerable part of its length. It lies vacant, except 


for use as pasture. It lias not been safe to live too far 
from the tliicklj-settled district till the establishment of 
law and order by the present administration, and the city 
itself has furnished room enough. But what new accom- 
modations are to be needed in the great future, with the 
vision of which imaginations are regaling themselves, it 
is not an easy matter to determine. 

Yillas were spoken of, to be built with restricted 
rights, so as to preserve a select and park -like aspect. 
There were to be front lots enough on the Calzada alone 
to pay the cost. The grand hotel talked of was to sur- 
pass anything on the continent. 

If somebody would but put up a hotel equal to our 
own of the second grade it would be a boon to American 
travellers. It might expect to draw, too, not a few of 
the Mexicans themselves, who are hardly slower than the 
rest of the world in recognizing a good thing when they 
see it. The magnates who shall have made fortunes in 
the new enterprises, and others who have them already, 
could, no doubt, be relied on for a liberal patronage. 


This project is of no farther importance than as a 
text for a mention of the Mexican tax and real estate 
laws, which have their features of decided interest. " In 
the moral as in the physical order," as our friend Itur- 
bide tells us, " only a gradual progress can be expected." 
A nation of nine or ten millions, two-thirds of whom are 
of pure Indian blood, used only to the most primitive 
and poverty-stricken ways of life, cannot be too sud- 
denly pushed forward. They must be allowed to go at a 
certain pace, even with the best of intentions, and slowly 
adapt themselves to the improvements designed for their 


good ; for it is by them, the rank and file, after all, that 
these must be supported. 

The country might seem, at first sight, the most glori- 
ous place for real estate speculation in the world. Real 
property is not taxed except upon such income as it pro- 
duces. When not actually producing income, it may be 
idle indefinitely, and escape scot-free, however much it 
may enhance in value meanwhile. But there are embar- 
rassing restrictions, devised through fear and jealousy of 
the foreigner, w^hich make the prospect much less attrac- 
tive. The traveller of means cannot follow his whim, 
as he might almost anywhere else in the world, of buy- 
ing a pretty bit of land or house that attracts him and 
leaving it, to return to w^hen he will, or do what he 
please with it. 

By the Mexican Civil Code " no foreigner may, with- 
out previous permission of the President of the Repub- 
lic, acquire real estate in the frontier states or territory 
within twenty leagues of the frontier." And ''it is ab- 
solutely prohibited to foreigners to acquire rustic or 
urban property within five leagues of the coast." 

This may be well enough, and is aimed principally at 
the United States, as a way of preventing any gradual 
encroachments from the borders ; but farther, and more 
important : no foreigner may own real property at all, 
except on condition of remaining permanently and look- 
ing after it. If he be absent fron'i the country for two 
years, his property may be denounced and entered by the 
first comer, the same as if it were a mine. He cannot 
even have an agent in the country to hold it for him. 
IS'or, even should he comply with the rigid condition 
named, could he then sell it to another foreigner. 

The transient foreigner, so far as he is concerned, can- 
not acquire real estate on any condition. 


All this is set down in the Code in the most explicit 
terras. The most driving improvement company, there- 
fore, could sell lots only to Mexicans. The class of 
wealthy Americans expected as winter residents would 
be ruled out of the calculation, though, of course, they 
may stop at the hotel. 

There is also some ambiguity as to what commercial 
corporations, with one-third of their directors resident in 
the country, may or may not do, since the construction 
of the term "corporation" is not the same as with us. 
Some construing or explanatory enactments are needed 
to remedy the ambiguity last mentioned, and an entire 
sweeping away is needed of all the rest. 

If there be sincerity in the manifestations of desire for 
progress, and aid from without, Mexico must sweep away 
narrow and benighted restrictions. If outside capital be 
demanded for works of amelioration and embellishment, 
how can it be expected at such a price? 

And why, in the name of goodness, in this enlightened 
day, should not the foreigner be put upon the same foot- 
ing as the native in these matters, and allowed to hold 
property wherever he will throughout the civilized world? 

Let the foreigner bear in mind, too, that he must 
be matriculated at the Department of Foreign Affairs, 
through the Consul-general, in order to have any recog- 
nized standing in a court of justice, in cases of difficulty. 
Without this formality even his foreignness is not nec- 
essarily conceded to him as a protection. 




The ferro-carriles, the cmninos de fierro^ or railways, 
were the business of the hour. In speaking of the com- 
ing greatness of the capital I mentioned glibly the prin- 
cipal ones wliich are supposed to have a part in it. They 
are by no means all built. Far from it ! It is not even 
certain that some of the most promising of them, on 
paper, ever will be built. 

The matter of granting railroad charters in Mexico is 
by no means new. They have been granted for thirty 
years or so, to Europeans and natives, who did little or 
nothing with them. It was only when, under the adop- 
tion of a more enlightened policy, they came to be 
granted to Americans that the roads w^ere built and the 
charters had a value. At once everybody who prided 
himself upon the necessary influence began to desire a 
charter also. He might not want to use it at once, but 
could keep it and see what turn things were to take. Or 
he might transfer it to some more powerful ownership 
to which it would be worth a consideration. This new 
ownership, too, might wait to see what was likely to 
happen. If railways promised to be profitable in the 
country, it was well for certain great corporations in the 
United States to have their feeders or extensions there ; 
at any rate, they could keep others from the field till they 
should be satisfied of its character. 


It is in this way, I surmise, that some of the present 
franchises have been got, and are reflectively held. There 
have been henchmen to procure them and turn them over 
to patrons, who wait a while before going to work, trust- 
ing to influence to procure the proper extensions and 
renewals of time, if needed. 

Stories were afloat of practices employed in the obtain- 
ing of concessions and subsidies, which I should prefer 
to believe falsifications. I heard one or two of them, it 
is true, from somewhat inside sources, and such practices 
are not unknown elsewhere ; yet I like much better to 
think that there are no persons of standing and influence 
in Mexico who could prostitute their high position, and 
put a shameless greed for gain before the public in- 
terest in a crisis like the present, as these stories seem 
to indicate. 

" Why, in our great West," said an American visitor, 
settling himself back in his chair to complain vigorously 
of certain treatment he had received, "if an immisrant 
comes among us, we give him a lift. We help him build 
his house, or perhaps put him up a barn ; and are glad 
to do it. If he has capital to start some kind of factory, 
we give him a piece of land free of charge. That is the 
American style. We put our hands in our pockets and 
pay out a little, knowing full well that we shall get it 
back in time in the greater prosperity of the town." 

•' Yes," I said, by way of sympathy with his aggrieved 
situation, and a proper pride in the American style of 
doing things, "and I am told that, in Chicago and St. 
Louis, they pay his hotel bills a while, and try to keep 
him, if not as a permanent resident, at least long enough 
to get out a new census, in which he may be included." 

" But here," my interlocutor continued, " there is noth- 
ing of the kind. The first thing they ask about a new- 


comer is, 'How much can we make out of him?' They 
want pay for permitting him to do something for them. 
There is no public spirit, no local pride. What they 
want is exorbitant gains." 

He went on to tell of an application for a charter 
by an American company, which was absolutely refused. 
They were afterward approached and told that the privi- 
lege would be granted to a committee of Mexican sena- 
tors, who would in their turn transfer it to the company 
for a handsome consideration. The go-betweens in this 
negotiation declared that the personages who were to 
have the final voice in the granting of the charter, as well 
as themselves, would require to be paid, which might 
have been true, and might not. A liberal share of the 
subsidy to be voted for the railway was to be exhausted 
in this way. 

I do not know whether this be anything more than 
political "striking," or black-mailing, with which we are 
familiar at Albany and elsewhere, and whether the cor- 
ruption ever really reaches to head-quarters. At any rate, 
it was said that some part of the aid devoted to each sev- 
eral enterprise was diverted in this way to private bene- 
fit. The drainage of the valley had been offered in the 
United States at a reduction of forty per cent, from the 
amount voted by the appropriation bill, the difference to 
be retained by the purveyors of the opportunity. One 
hundred thousand dollars in cash was demanded, again, 
as a preliminary, for the opportunity to fill in the works 
of a certain harbor with stone at a reasonable rate. Such 
accounts may be worth looking into by Mexican authori- 
ty, with the interest of good and economical work and 
the abatement of scandal at heart. There is probably no 
better form of patriotism for Mexico just now than a 
strict and uncompromising honesty of administration. 



There were entered in the convenient statistical hand- 
book known as the " Annuario Universal," for the year, 
a list of forty-one railways as in explotacimi (running), 
or under construction. But after many of those enu- 
merated was inserted a note, to the effect that, owing to 
some unforeseen delay, the works were not yet begun. 
Taking out these, and a larger number on which, though 
technically begun, little or no labor had been expended, 
there was still an unlooked for array of constructed 
roads. Taking out the En^ isli road from Yera Cruz, 
and what had been done by the American companies, 
almost at the moment, these were found to consist of 
short bits of local line scattered throughout the country. 
There was not a through line among them ; many were 
operated by animal traction onl}^; they had been built by 
natives, been afflicted by bankruptcies and other troubles ; 
and represented the railway situation of the country 
apart from outside assistance. You were even drawn a 
good part of the way by animals on the English branch 
from Yera Cruz to Jalapa ; and in going from Mexico 
to the mines at Pachuca, after leaving the main line at 
Ometusco, we took first a diligence, and were then pulled 
by mules in a Philadelphia-built horse-car. The number 
of these isolated bits has not increased in the mean time, 
several of them having been bought up and incorporated 
in the larger enterprises. 

In the mean time, however, the list of projected roads 
at least has been liberally increased. The Congressional 
session of 1881 was the most active ever known in the 
authorization of new enterprises on a great scale. The 
great Mexican Central, trunk line, had, however, been 



chartered in 1878, and the Mexican E'ational in 1880. 
The first charter under the modern movement dates 
from October, 1867; and since then the Mexican Govern- 
ment has issued charters for over 20,000 miles of road, 
with subsidies probably to the amount of $200,000,000. 
Many of these, with their subsidies, have lapsed, of 
course. The Government is now held for about 15,000 
miles of road, and subsidies of $90,000,000. 

The enterprises on a great scale are all American, and 
the chief ones among them may be estimated roughly as 
follows : 


Mexican Central (Boston Company) 2,000 

Mexican National (Palmer-Sullivan) 2,000 

Sonora (Boston Company) 500 

Mexican Southern (General Grant, President) 1,000 

Oriental (De Gress and Jay Gould) 1,200 

Topolobambo (Senator Windom, President) 1,200 

International (Frisbie and Huntington) 1,400 

Pacific Coast (Frisbie) 3,000 

Total 12,300 

To these may be added the Sinaloa and Darango, from 
the city of Culiacan to the port of Altata, in Sinaloa ; the 
Tehuantepec railway, and Captain Eads's ship railway 
across the same isthmus, to take the place of a ship canal. 
The privilege to build an American railway across Te- 
huantepec, it may be remembered, was secured (at the 
same time with the lower belt of Arizona) by the Gads- 
den treaty of 1853, supplementary to that of Guadalupe 
Hidalgo. The road was supposed to be needed for the 
consolidation of relations with our then newly acquired 
territory of California. The Pacific railroad filled its 
place, however, and the project, taken up and dropped 
from time to time, has since had but a lingering existence. 

Captain Eads proposes to transport bodily ships of 




4000 tons, 190 miles, by land. He will Lave twelve 
lines of rails, and four locomotives at once ; and, to avoid 
jarring in transit, changes of direction will be made by 
a series of turn-tables instead of curves. The scheme is 
a startling one, and meets with no little opposition. It 
is still only on paper; but its proposer, who has abun- 
dantly vindicated his sagacity in constructing the jetties 
of the Mississippi and the great St. Louis bridge, remains 
firm in his conviction that he will be able to sail ships 
across the isthmus on dry land. 


The several enterprises are succinctly divided into two 
classes — those on the ground, and those on paper. It is 
not necessarily a disparagement to the last that they are 
still in such a condition, for many of them are of very 
recent origin. 

The original Mexican Southern road is to rim south 
from Mexico, by Puebla and Oaxaca (capital of the pop- 
ulous state of the same name) and the frontier of Gua- 
temala, with branches to the ports of Anton Lizardo, on 
the Gulf of Mexico, and Tehuantepec, on the Pacific. It 
is to connect also with the Tehuantepec railway. It 
relies, as a principal resource, upon the transport of the 
valuable productions of a rich tropical country, as cotton, 
sugar, coffee, rice, and the like. Oaxaca is an important 
small city of 28,000 people, birthplace of General Por- 
firio Diaz, the Mexican power behind the throne, and un- 
doubtedly the weightiest person in the country. The 
route will be a rugged one to build. Much of the area 
is high and salubrious. The Oaxacan Indians are a sturdy 
race, who have followed their leader, Diaz, and others in 
many a hard-fought campaign. 


This company, however, has lately effected a consoli- 
dation with the Mexican Oriental, and both will hence- 
forth be known under the name of the Mexican Southern. 

The Mexican Oriental sets out from Laredo, on the 
Texas frontier, and proceeds to the capital by way of 
Victoria, the capital of the state of Tamaulipas. It 
claims to have a bee-line, and to be 200 miles shorter 
than any other. Its mission is to occupy the district be- 
tween the coast and the Mexican National. It throws 
out a branch from Victoria to San Luis Potosi ; and has 
a coast-line connecting Tuxpan, Nautla, and Vera Cruz. 
It is fed by some 12,000 miles ^f road under control of 
Jay Gould in the United States. 

The International is chartered to run from Eagle Pass, 
in Texas, to the city of Mexico, occupying a field left 
vacant between the Mexican Central and National; and 
is allowed to have also a cross-line to a point between 
Matamoras and Tampico, east, and between Mazatlan and 
Zihuataneso, west. The theory of each, it will be seen, is 
to have an interoceanic line as well as a main line north 
and south. 

The Pacific Coast road covers the right to a vast 
stretch, beginning at a point below Fort Yuma, Arizona, 
and connecting the whole series of Pacific ports down to 
Guatemala. The Topolobampo has also a long extension 
southward, to touch at some of the same points. 

The Topolobampo route (Texas, Topolobampo, and 
Pacific) crosses the northern border states. It professes 
to be a shorter transcontinental route to Australia and 
Asia than any other that can be laid down on the map. 
It claims to have at Topolobampo, just within the Gulf 
of California, the ancient Sea of Cortez, one of the few 
fine harbors of the Pacific coast. 

These harbors are spaced at wide intervals apart. 


That of the Cohimbia River of Oregon is the highest 
up. Then, 600 miles south, comes San Francisco ; 441 
miles below this is San Diego ; 650 miles farther on, in 
a direct line, or 936, doubling Cape St. Lucas, is Topo- 
lobampo; and 740 miles south of this again is Acapulco. 
Between them all there is nothing worthy the name of 

Topolobampo city, within the confines of the state of 
Sinaloa, exists only on paper as yet, but nothing is more 
impressive in its elegant regularity and finish than a pa- 
per city. It claims to be 800 miles nearer New York 
than San Francisco by railroad travel, and that a person 
coming from Liverpool to Sydney, Australia, would save 
600 miles in laying out a course from Fernandina, Flor- 
ida, by ISTew Orleans and Topolobampo, w^hich is indi- 
cated as a route of the future. If some of these rep- 
resentations be correct, no doubt it will be. We live 
in times of a ruthless commercial greed w^iich is stopped 
by no sentimental considerations of vested rights and 
convenience. We have but to see a short, through 
line, with possible economies, to build it with all possible 

The road in question is to start from Piedras Negras, 
on the frontier of Texas, and make for Topolobampo, 
across the states of Coahuila, Chihuahua, and Sonora, 
with branches to Presidio del Norte, also on the Texas 
frontier, and to Alamos, in Sonora, and the port of Maz- 
atlan, down the coast. These routes pass near, and 
would greatly facilitate operations in some of the large 
silver-mining districts, of late entered with success by 
American capital and immigration. The reports of its 
surveys chronicle an engaging prospect in various othei* 
ways. It passes from belts of tropical products to those 
of white pine, oak, and cedar, and others fitted for cereals. 


grass, and cotton, witli a rich iron mountain, and deposits 
of copper as well as silver. 

The maxim is laid down that a railroad pays, in local 
traffic, in proportion as one section of its line supplies 
what another lacks. If the situation be as represented, 
Topolobampo seems provided with most of the essential 
conditions of success. 




The Sonora road is already built, and in operation as 
I write. It is a stretch of three hundred miles, from 
the Arizona frotitier, to the port of Guajmas, near the 
centre of the shore line of the Gulf of California. Its 
United States connection is by a branch of the Atchison, 
Topeka, and Santa Fe, from Benson, through Calabasas, 
to the border at ISTogales ; and another is proposed, from 
the Southern Pacific at Tucson. The management of this 
enterprise, as well as of the Great Mexican Central, is 
practically that of the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe. 

Its course is across the state of Sonora. It abolishes 
the old system of ox-train transportation and the dusty 
stage- line from Tucson. It will be found fault with, 
among others, by the savage Apaches, whose refuge 
Northern Mexico has so long been. Their depredations, 
with their territory penetrated by railroads, must soon 
come to an end once for all. The other Indians of the 
state — Yaquis, Mayos, and Opatas — are docile, and a 
principal reliance for cheap labor. The road taps mines, 
and, by means of a branch, what is even more important 
for Mexico, the valuable Santa Clara coal-fields. It has 
the little city of Ilermosillo, with its plantations, irrigated 
by aqueducts, in its course ; and its port of Guaymas is 
commodious and sheltered. 



I have purposely reserved to the last — the better, per- 
haps, to present them to view — the two great trunk lines 
of principal importance, the Mexican Central and the 
Mexican National. These two represent the bulk of the 
entire movement as it is at present. Neither had many 
miles in actual operation during my stay; but the works, 
railway stations, city offices, and army of employes of 
both, were constantly in sight at the capital, and were 
the principal evidences by which the manner of the rail- 
way invasion of Mexico could be judged. 

Energy of movement, ingenuity in planning, and an 
almost limitless expenditure, all indicated here conscien- 
tious work, and not simply railroad building on paper. 

The Central begins at El Paso, the terminus of the 
Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe, as well as a station on 
the Southern Pacific, at the frontier of New Mexico. 
It extends to the capital, a distance of thirteen hundred 
miles, tapping on the way a long series of the leading 
cities of the republic, most of these as well capitals of 
states. It has also a great interoceanic cross-line, which 
is to pass from the port of Tampico, on the Gulf of Mex- 
ico, through the cities of San Luis Potosi, Lagos (the 
junction with the main line), and Guadalajara, to San 
Bias, on the Pacific. It is expected that the main line 
will be completed about July, 188L 

The first reached in the chain of leading cities is Chi- 
huahua, with about eighteen thousand inhabitants. The 
line is already running to this point, and is completed in 
all three hundred and thirtj^-one miles southward from 
Paso del Norte. The visitor by rail may already have 
in Chihuahua a glimpse of a place presenting most of the 



typical Mexican features. It has Aztec remains, and a 
large cathedral, built out of a percentage of the proceeds 
of a silver-mine in bonanza. It is the scene where the 
patriot Hidalgo, who first raised the standard of insurrec- 
tion against Spanish rule, was shot, having been treacher- 
ousl}^ betrayed by his friends. This story is, unhappily, 
of but too frequent repetition in Mexican annals. 

Durango, three hundred miles farther, has twenty- 
eight thousand people. It has been spoken of as the Ul- 
tima Thiile of civilized Mexico, the barren plains to the 
north — which are, indeed, very common in all these up- 
permost states — not having been considered worthy to 
be included with the country below. There are places 
where water is not to be had for two and three days at a 
time, but must be carried by the traveller. The inhabi- 
tants have had to depend considerably upon themselves 
for defence, as is seen in the occasional fort-like hacien- 
das, with walls turreted and pierced for musketry. 

Zacatecas, moving onward now into a country of rec- 
ognized civilization, has 62,000 people ; San Luis Potosi, 
45,000; Aguas Calientes, 35,000; Lagos, 25,000 ; Leon, 
100,000 ; handsome Guanajuato, capital of the state 
which is the richest of the whole interior, 63,000; Ce- 
laya, 30,000 ; Silao, 38,000 ; Irapuato, 21,000 ; Salamanca, 
20,000 ; and luxurious Guadalajara, 94,000. 

The mining of the precious metals is a leading indus- 
try over all the area thus described, which abounds also 
in the agricultural products of a gentle and temperate 
climate. The railroad is now running northward from 
the city of Mexico to Lagos, and is completed for three 
hundred and thirty-four miles from this lower end. 

Lastly in the chain of cities may be mentioned Quere- 
taro, w^iich has a population of 48,000. It is the site of 
flourishing cotton -mills, an aqueduct which is compared 


with the works of the Romans, and it saw the final re- 
sistance and execution of Maximilian. Mexico itself has 
200,000 inhabitants. I have summed up here nearly a 
million of people ; and it would seem that a railroad 
along the line of which are scattered such communities 
as these, grown to their present dimensions without even 
tolerable means of approach, need not lack for support. 

True, large numbers of the people are Indians and 
very poor; but I point to the example of Don Benito 
Juarez, the liberator of his country from the French, an 
Indian of the purest blood, and to numerous others acces- 
sible on every hand, to show that there is nothing inher- 
ent in the race itself to debar it from the highest devel- 
opment with increase of opportunities. And if any sup- 
pose that they do not like to travel, let him simply in- 
spect the excursion trains where third-class cars are sup- 
plied to them in sufficient numbers. 


I made the trip over the section of the Central to the 
small city of Tula. Its principal feature is the passage 
through the great Spanish drainage cut, along one side of 
which it has been allowed to terrace its track. This cut — 
the Tajo of Nochistongo, before mentioned, designed for 
keeping the lakes from inundating the valley — was be- 
gun under the viceroys as far back as 1607, and continued 
for a couple of hundred years. Such mammoth earth- 
cutting — a ditch twelve miles long, a couple of hundred 
feet deep, and three hundred and sixty wide — was never 
seen elsewhere in the world ; and it is said to have cost 
the lives of seventy thousand jpeons^ or Indian laborers, 
in the course of construction. Why this should have 
been, and how they died — whether by slipping in and 


being buried, or under the exactions of cruel task-masters, 
and whether those who passed away simply of old age 
(for which it will be seen there was ample time) are in- 
cluded — does not appear. 

I went partly by construction train, dining in their car 
with a group of jolly young engineers, and partly on 
horseback over the terre-plaine (the graded road-bed), 
which makes an excellent surface for riding. The peons, 
swarming on the work, in white cotton shirts and drawers, 
have reddish skins, bristly black hair, and a sudden, wild- 
eyed way of addressing you. They have an analogy to 
the Chinese type. They got at this time two and a half 
reals (thirty-one cents) a day. They are very suspicious, 
and have absolutely no idea of trust, or waiting over the 
appointed time. Dangerous strikes have resulted from 
some slight putting off of the pay-day, which usually 
takes place once a week. In other respects they are 
very tractable. 

There were said to be thirty thousand of them at work 
on railroads at this date. The rate of wages, so favor- 
able to the contractors at first, has been gradually rising 
under the active demand in the mean time, and I have 
heard, since my return, of a strike on one of the northern 
roads for as high as $1 a day. They buy gay clothes for 
Sunday, and pulque^ and save nothing. Many will not 
even work steadily. Two such form a partnership to 
take a single place, and one works half the week and 
the other the rest. There were some who walked all Sat- 
urday night to spend Sunday at Queretaro, and returned 
Monday raoi'ning. On the haciendas they are generally 
in debt, and as they cannot leave when in debt, they are 
so far attached to the land, like serfs. Each gang has a 
Cabo (or head), who is simply an enterprising one of 
themselves, and gets an allowance of two cents extra for 




each man he controls. 
The Cabo is a great 
man among tlie railway 
laborers, and out of 
cabos arise the Benito 
Juarezes, and hopes in- 
definite for the evolu- 
tion of the race. 

I spent the night at Tula. It was the capital of the 
Toltecs before the day of the Aztecs. I climbed the Hill 
of the Treasure, to inspect some ruins over w^hich archae- 
ologists have made a stir. There are no sculptures nor 
carved stones, nothing but some opened cellars and heavy 
walls, with patches of a red plaster, as at Pompeii, ad- 
hering to them. But we stayed our horses, and looked 


down, from a thicket of organ-cactus and nopal, upon a 
lovely sunset over the valley of Tula. It is a little 
pocket of fertility in the hills, and it does not seem at 
all wonderful that the Toltecs stopped there in their 
migrations southward. 

My mozo pointed out a ruin in the thick woods, which 
he declared was Toltec, knowing that to be what I was in 
search of. It was picturesque enough, its walls having 
been split by an irrepressible vegetable growth ; but it 
had the same style of battlements (a kind of Spanish 
horn of dominion) as the fortress-like church in the town, 
dating from 1553, and was much more modern. 

I went into this cool old church — vast enough for a 
cathedral — next day, when the temperature was warm 
without. It was entirely vacant. Fatigued with my 
journeying, I sat on a comfortable old wooden bench, 
and dozed till awakened sharply by the striking of a 
little cuckoo-clock. I seem to have dreamed that the 
numerous quaint figures of saints, in dresses made of 
actual stuffs, had somehow an every-day existence there, 
in addition to their sacred character, and that they were 
taking notice of the intruder, and offering audible com- 
ments. This is one of the ways, I suppose, in which very 
good miracles have been wrought before now. 

For the rest, the place consisted of a plaza, with two 
or tliree ])iilque-^\\o^^ ; a shop of general traps, with the 
ambitious title of " Los Leones ;" a hotica (or drug-shop), 
kept by one Perfecto Espinoza; a Hotel de las Diligen- 
cias; and a little jail, at one corner of the plaza, where 
a couple of soldiers walked up and down, and the pris- 
oners peeped out through a large wooden, grated door. 

And there was a good restaurant, kept by a little 
Frenchman, who moved on with it from time to time to 
the head of the line. 



The Mexican National, or " Palmer-Siillivan," road is 
due to the same enterprise which established the success- 
ful Denver and Rio Grande system in Colorado and Xew 
Mexico. It is, like that, a narrow gauge, instead of a 
standard gauge, line, and a connection is to be ultimately 
established between the two. In some respects it may 
claim to be the pioneer in the modern movement, since 
its agent in Mexico, James Sullivan, had obtained a 
charter and begun to raise money in 18T2, but w^as stop- 
ped in his project by the panic of the following year. 

The National takes a much shorter line to the capital 
than the Central, say eight hundred miles, as against 
thirteen hundred. Its initial point is Laredo, on the 
Texas frontier. It is running already into Monterey, 
the capital of Nuevo Leon, and built below Saltillo. 
Of the charms of the little city of Monterey, which has 
medicinal springs beside it, travellers begin to speak in 
the w^armest terms. It touches San Luis Potosi and Ce- 
laya as well as the Central, and has along or near its 
course other cities, well peopled, though less known to 
fame, as Matchuala, the population of which is 25,000. 
Its eastern port is Corpus Christi, Texas, though it will 
have a branch also to Matamoras. Its westward ex- 
tension (only less important than the main line) winds 
round about, through the cities of Toluca, Maravatio, 
Morelia, Guadalajara, and Colima, down to the port of 

Four of these are capitals, and all are populous, and 
have wide, well-paved streets and handsome buildings, 
public and private. Toluca, at a great height, 8825 feet, 
above the sea, is often afflicted by a rather frigid tem- 


perature ; Colima is distinctly in the tropics ; but Mo- 
relia affords the happy medium, and its whole state of 
Michoacan has charms upon which the appreciative never 
have done expatiating. Humboldt speaks of the lake 
found at Patzcuaro as one of the loveliest on the globe. 
Madame Calderon de la Barca, in her journey here, could 
hardly refrain from regretting the lavishing by Nature 
of what seemed (so few were there then to enjoy it) 
almost a wasted beauty. "We are startled," she says, 
" by the conviction that this enchanting variety of hill 
and plain, wood and w^ater, is for the most part unseen 
by human eye and untrod by human footstep." 

The route winds, too, on its way to Guadalajara, 
around the great lake of Chapala. Truly, it seems they 
are to be happy travellers, those of the immediate future, 
to whom the simple device of the railway is to open up 
so much of the wildness and loveliness of nature, com- 
bined with the quaintness of an old Spanish civilization. 
We are apt to forget, in our preconceived impressions, 
what an important part Old Spain played in the country 
during three hundred years, what treasures she spent 
there. She had made a beginning of some of these solid, 
regular cities, which surprise one like enchantment on 
emerging upon them from forests and wastes, a hundred 
years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. 
Very little, in fact, has been added to what the Spanish 
domination left. The modern movement, since 1821, is 
to be credited with very little in the way of new build- 
ings. Such compliments as are paid in the course of these 
descriptions to the architecture belong chiefly to that re- 
maining from a much earlier date. The reputation of the 
republic is still to be made in all such matters when it 
shall have outgrown the ample legacies bequeathed it, and 
have need of farther accommodations peculiarly its own. 



In all, the National has completed four hundred and 
sixty miles. It is said of late to have been sold to an 
English company. We need not forego our American 
pride in its early achievements, even if this be so. Per- 
haps such a transfer might be of benefit, in allaying the 
dread of an overweening American influence. 

It was not done even to Toluca in my time. It has to 
face its most arduous engineering difliculties at the very 
beginning, and fortunately goes far more smoothly after- 
ward. Ko less than seventeen bridges, of solid construc- 
tion, had to be thrown across the little stream of the 
Rio Hondo in two or three miles of its course. 

A pay-train on horseback started out from the central 
office every Saturday, to convoy the silver coin for the 
wages of the army of hands employed on the first section 
of twenty miles. 

" Ride with us !" its members often hospitably urged, 
and I more than once accepted the invitation. 

It is an all-day adventure, and a fatiguing one. Be- 
hold us at early morning clattering out of the court-yard 
to ride up into the fastnesses of the mountains, a curious 
cavalcade. The treasure is packed upon the backs of a 
dozen mules, which are placed in the centre. A troop of 
Rurales (the efficient force organized by Portirio Diaz 
for the better protection of the rural districts) takes the 
van. A numerous retinue of armed mozos of the com- 
pany, with ourselves, bring up the rear. The young- 
engineers, paymasters, and contractors, well mounted, 
with long boots and revolvers, present a handsome, half- 
military aspect. 

We have presently lost sight of the city, and are upon 


high rolling barrens, where the surface is volcanic and 
rent into an infinity of seams, and the only vegetation is 
that of nopal, or prickly-pear, as large as apple-trees with 
us. Here and there a cluster of white tents is seen at a 
distance, and cotton-clad peons delving in gulch or on 
mountain -side are like some strange species of white 

The whole expedition wears a most un-nineteenth- 
century air. We might be some band of marauders re- 
turned from an ancient foray. The Rurales have some- 
thing in their cut — the buff leather jackets, crossed by 
ample sword-belts, and wide, gray felt hats — of the troop- 
ers of Cromwell. Each has a rifle in his holster at the 
saddle-bow, and a gray-and-scarlet blanket strapped be- 
hind him. Nothing could be more spirited, in color, 
than these costumes, dismounted beside a cactus-tree, or 
thrown out against the blue of distant mountains. On 
the harness of some of the mules are embroidered in 
red and blue their names, or that of some hacienda, as 
" Santa Lucia," to which they have belonged. 

It is understood that an individual with a crimson 
handkerchief around the back of his head, under his sil- 
ver-bordered sombrero, is the titular cacique of San Bar- 
tolito by descent from ancient chiefs. He precedes us, 
being employed by the company to look out for plots 
and ambuscades. When we have passed what he con- 
siders the dangerous points — these are generally in the 
neighborhood of elevations, whence an intending bandit 
could spy the road for a distance in both directions, and 
where are ravines on either side for concealment and 
escape — he rejoins the troop, and converses upon the 
propriety of his receiving more salary for his arduous 
duties. No molestation has ever yet been offered these 
caravans, and there is hardly likely to be. From a con- 




siderable experience in remote parts of Mexico I am 
satisfied that, however prudent ample precautions may 
be in exceptional cases like this, the ordinary traveller 
runs little if any more danger of robbery than at home. 

At the pay-stations we breast our way through crowds 
of the peons so thick that the horses can hardly be pre- 
vented from trampling upon them, always with their 
narrow foreheads, bristling hair, staring, wild eyes, and 
large, undecided mouths. Their money is jingled out to 
them through a pay-window into their shabby sombreros. 
Venders of small commodities and pulque wait for them, 
and profit by the new supply of funds. 

At these stations the engineers lead a kind of barrack 
life. The interior contains some beds, a dining-table, and 
a safe ; outside is a storehouse of picks, shovels, and bar- 
rows. Whether here, in their construction-car, or tents, 
they extend the stranger a cheery hospitality. They are 
hearty, robust fellows — "not here for their health," as 
their saying is. Many of them have seen service in war 
and in other climes, and their company is both amusing 
and instructive. 


The right of way usually given in all the concessions 
is for a width of two hundred and thirty feet. Material 
and supplies for the road, and connected telegraph line, 
are exempted from duty generally for the period of 
twenty years. Neither the concession, property, nor 
shares can be alienated to any foreign government, nor 
can a foreign government be admitted as a shareholder. 
The fear of foreign domination crops out everywhere in 
Mexican legislation ; and perhaps the w^eakness of the 
nation, and the sad experience of its seizure by Napoleon 
on the pretext of debt, are sufficient excuse for such 



nervousness. At any rate, all companies organized un- 
der its charters agree to be strictly Mexican, and to 
renounce all rights and exemptions as foreigners. 


There is no great vacant public 
domain, as with us, and the Gov- 
ernment has not aided the new 
enterprises with land grants. Up 
to a recent period, however, it has 
attached to each concession a cash 
subsidy of $10,000 to $15,000 a 
mile. Both the Central and Na- 
tional are thus subsidized. In order that the burden 
may not fall too heavily upon an exchequer always weak, 
the payments are made to depend upon the pledge of six 
per cent, in the one case, and four in the other, of re- 
ceipts at the custom-houses. Certificates for the several 



amounts as tbej become due are issued to the companies, 
which must wait for collection till there are funds to 
meet them. 

The latest plan, affecting most of the great schemes 
still chieflj on paper, gives no subsidy with the charter, 
but gives, instead, certain privileges to atone for its ab- 
sence. A less strict accountability to Government, with 
a much higher tariff of charges, is permitted. It has 
been questioned by some whether under these conditions 
a charter without the subsidy is not better than with it. 
It is to be borne in mind, however, so far as the matter 
of the higher rates is concerned, that between compet- 
ing points the company which can afford to run at the 
cheapest rates gets the business. If but a tithe of the 
railroads now covering the map like a net- work be built, 
there need be no fear of the lack of a lively competition. 

The stocks and bonds of railroads are not bought on 
the word of a desultory traveller mainly in search of the 
picturesque — though I will admit, too, that they are often 
bought upon less. I am not afraid, therefore, to express 
a certain enthusiasm about \)i\Q ferro-carriles of Mexico, 
which are in everybody's mouth. It is the railways 
which have made the modern world elsewhere what it 
is, and why should they fail of the usual effect here ? 

They may be overdone, and there may be panics and 
shrinkages, such as have occurred elsewhere, thougli this 
is not extremel}^ probable, owing to the reasons for wari- 
ness which lie very much on the surface. The conditions 
to be conformed to must not be sought in a parallel situ- 
ation of things in the United States, but rather in such 
countries, perhaps, as Russia and India, with a large 
peasant population to ►be developed, instead of a new 
population to be created. We have built railroads in 
advance of settlement, and depended upon immigration 


to fill up in their wake. Mexico has but an infinitesimal 
immigration, and presents no great inducements to it at 
present. It must depend upon the local carrying trade 
and natural development of the industries and commerce 
of the country. It has a population per square mile but 
little less than that of the United States. These are 
of a natural intelligence, and capable of the stimulus of 
ambition when opportunities are opened. They are to 
be encouraged to be no longer satisfied with a bare sub- 
sistence for themselves, but to produce from their fertile 
lands a surplus, for which a market is now opened. They 
are to trade upon it and become amassers of wealth. 

No less than 10,000 miles of railways are spread over 
what were once the old Mexican provinces of Califor- 
nia, Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Nevada, 
Utah, and Texas. Railways have brought these out of 
the nothingness in which they recently lay so vast and 
desolate. What must they not inevitably do at last for 
Old Mexico itself, so fully peopled, and scattered with 
centres of trade and of the arts of civilized life ? 




It is perhaps thought that the work of improvement is 
to be effected entirely from without, the Mexican himself 
remaining passive, and allowing everything to be done 
for him. The view is supported by the extent to which 
the business of the country is already in the hands of for- 
eigners. The bankers and manufacturers are English. 
The Germans control hardware and "fancy goods." 
French and Italians keep the hotels and restaurants; 
Spaniards the small groceries and pawn-shops, and deal 
in the products of the country. These latter have a re- 
pute for somewhat Jewish style of thrift. They are 
enterprising as administrators of haciendas, and often 
marry the proprietors' daughters, and possess themselves 
on their own account of the properties to which they were 
sent as agents. Whether it be due to such rivalry or 
not, it is to be noted that there are few Jews in Mexico. 
Finally, the Americans build the railroads. 

The Mexican proper is a retail trader, an employe, 
or, if rich, draws his revenues from haciendas, which in 
many cases he never sees, and where his money is made 
for him. These are on an enormous scale. The chief 
part of the land is comprised in great estates, on which 
the peasants live in a semi-serfdom. Small farms are 
scarcely known. For his fine hacienda in the state of 


Oaxaca ex-President Diaz is said to have paid over a 
million of dollars ; on another the appliances alone cost a 
million. The revenues of Mexican proprietors have been 
heretofore devoted to the purchase of more real estate, 
or loaned out at interest; at any rate, "salted down" in 
some such way as to be of little avail in setting the 
wheels of industry in motion. 

Before adopting, however, the conventional view that 
this state of things is due to inferiority of race or ener- 
vating climate, considerations on the other side are to be 
looked at. In the first place is the revolutionary condi- 
tion of the country, which until a recent date subjected 
the citizen who ventured to place his property beyond 
his immediate recall to a thousand embarrassments from 
one or another of the contending parties. Such immuni- 
ties and advantages as there were, were enjoyed by for- 
eigners alone, under the protection of their diplomatic 

Again, there have been peculiar inequalities of fortune, 
coming down from the old Spanish monarchical times. 
There has been at one extreme of society a class too ab- 
ject, and'at the other, one in too leisurely circumstances, 
to greatly aspire to farther improvement, and the middle 
class has been of slow formation. The difficulties in 
the way of travel and communication with foreign parts 
for the middle class, from the bosom of which financial 
success chiefly springs, have been of a repressive sort. 

The climate, of the central table-land at least, must not 
be considered enervating. One must lay his ideas of 
climate, as depending upon latitude, aside, and compre- 
hend that here it is a matter of elevation above the sea. 
Individual Mexicans are to be met with who, under the 
stimulus of the new feeling of security, have embarked 
their capital, put plenty of irons in the fire, and appear to 



handle them with skill. The street railways of the capi- 
tal, an extensive and excellent system, are under native 
management exclusively. It is as successful in mining. 
It was only when the great Real del Monte Company at 
Pachuca, formerly English, passed into Mexican hands 
that its mines became profitable. 

I should be strongly of the opinion that the backward- 
ness of the Mexican is not the result of a native incapac- 
ity or lack of appetite for gain, but chiefly of the physical 
conformation of the country. The mule-path is traced 
like a vast hieroglyphic over the face of it, and in this is 
read the secret — lack of transportation. 

But the zealous advocate of race and "Northern en- 
ergy " objects : " How long is it since we had no railroads 
ourselves? And yet did we not reach a very pretty de- 
gree of civilization without them ?" 

But Mexico not only had no railways, but not even 
rivers nor ports. It was w\aterways which made the pros- 
perity of nations before the day of steam. It is hardly 
credible, the completeness of the deprivations to which 
this interesting country has been so long subjected. The 
wonder is, to any experienced in the diligence travel, and 
the dreary slowness of the journeys, at a foot-pace, by 
beasts of burden, not that so little, but so very much, has 
been done. On the trail to the coast at Acapulco, for 
instance — in popular phrase a mere camino cle pajaros 
(road for birds) — have grown up some charming towns, 
like Iguala, the scene of the Emperor Iturbide's famous 
Plan, which, it seems to me, the Anglo-Saxon race would 
hardly ever have originated under such circumstances. 

Commerce and trade in such a land naturally have their 
peculiar aspects. There is, in the first place, the compli- 
cated tariff, already referred to. Americans should not 
let a new-born enthusiasm for a promising market hurry 



them into consignments without a thorough understand- 
ing of the premises. As to engaging in undertakings in 
the country itself, one who had done so held that the 
new-comer should make his residence there for six months 
or a year, and first acquaint himself with the people, their 
customs, and language. 

"Better make it two years, on the whole," he said, 
reflectively, " and then he will go home again and let it 
alone altogether." 

Without sharing this saturnine view, the importance 
of some preliminary acquaintance cannot be too strongly 
insisted upon. The great inertia of customs and ways 
of looking at things so different from our own is appre- 
ciated more and more as time goes on. 


The most promising openings at present would seem 
to be, for capital, to work up into manufactures the raw 
material with which the country abounds. These oppor- 
tunities will increase with the growth of transportation. 
Labor is cheap. The peons have little inventive but suf- 
ficient imitative talent, and make excellent mill-hands. 
They work for twentj'-five and thirty-seven cents a day, 
and have no trades-unions nor strikes. There is little 
opening as yet for persons of small means. The govern- 
ment has taken but its first rudimentary steps toward the 
encouragement of immigration, and the path is beset with 

A commercial treaty is now in the hands of the Senate 
of the United States. It will be adopted in some form 
before long, and may result in the improvement of local 
business opportunities, as it must in the volume of trade, 
between the two countries. What we want is such a re- 
duction of duties as to put us on the same footing at least 
as England (in favor of which there is a certain discrimi- 
nation), so that our goods and machinery can be sold in 
the country on reasonable terms. It is predicted tJiat a 
trade which is now about $30,000,000 per annum (includ- 
ing both exports and imports) can be made $100,000,000. 
The Mexicans, on their side, desire admission for their 
sugar and hemp. The treaty has met with its chief op- 
position thus far from our Southern sugar- planters. 
Their fear of competition is hardly reasonable at pres- 
ent. Our own product seems more likely to go to Mex- 
ico at first. It is a matter of note that sugar has been 
selling at eighteen cents a pound of late at old Monterey, 
in the country which professes to raise it."^ The total 

* Detailed figures of our trade with Mexico, and other useful mat- 
ters, will be found in the "Border States of Mexico." by Leonidas 
Hamilton. Chicago. 1882. 


value of the exports from Mexico for the past fiscal year 
has been $29,000,000. Of these $14,000,000 came to us, 
and $10,000,000 went to England. Our own exports to 
Mexico for 1881 were somewhat over $11,000,000. 


At present Mexico is perhaps tlie most difficult coun- 
try in which to do business in the civilized world. A 
customer four or live hundred miles off, even on the best 
roads, is five or six days' journey distant. In preparing 
for it it is not long since he was accustomed to first make 
his will. The merchant has friendly as well as commer- 
cial relations with his customer. He is more or less his 
banker at the same time, not for the resulting profit, but 
because it is expected of him. If he does not offer such, 
accommodation some other house will. Credits are long, 
and it is not expected that interest will be charged even 
on quite liberal overlaps of time. 

Payment is made in the bulky silver currency of the 
country ; and this is sent in large sums by guarded con- 
voys, the conductas,^\\\lQ\\ converge upon the capital four 
times a year — in January, April, August, and November. 
There were but two banks issuing bills at this time, and 
these to but a small amount, and receivable only at short 
distances from the capital. One of these was a private 
corporation, the other the National Monte de Piedad, or 

The visitor becomes early acquainted with the Mexican 
"dollar of the fathers," to his sorrow. Sixteen of them 
weigh a solid pound. It is obviously impossible to carry 
even a moderate quantity of this money concealed, or to 
carry it at all with comfort. The unavoidable exhibition 
of it, held in laps, chinking in valises, standing in bags, 



and poured out in prodigious streams at the banks and 
commercial houses, is one of the features of life. 

Guadalajara, the supply from which unites with that 
from Zacatecas at Queretaro, is the northernmost point 
from which money is despatched by conducta to Mexico. 
A portion of that even from here is despatched to San 

Francisco, by the port 
of San Bias, just as a 
part of that from Za- 
catecas goes to Tam- 
pico through San Luis 
Potosi. The country 
north of San Luis to 
the east ships its funds 
to Matamoras ; those 
of Durango are di- 
vided between Mata- 
moras and Mazatlan ; 
while Puebla, Oaxaca, 
and the rest of the 
south find their nat- 
ural outlet at Yera 

The importance of 
the great conducta in 
these times is dimin- 
ished by the growing safety of the transport of money 
by private hands. Its days are numbered with tlie 
progress of the railways, nearing so rapidly the central 
cluster of cities in which it has its origin. Even now it 
no longer came wholly to town, but took the Central train 
at the first feasible point, at Huehuetoca, the Spanish cut 
for the drainage of the valley. Its place as a spectacle is 
filled by the pay coiiductas of the railroads. 



A revision of these accounts is needed almost from 
moment to moment as I write, to keep pace with the rapid 
changes in affairs. A National Bank and banks of foreign 
incorporators have been established in the mean time, with 
authority to issue large amounts of but inefficiently se- 
cured paper. The Mexican National Bank may now issue 
bills to the amount of $60,000,000, upon a capital of 
$20,000,000. They are legal tender from individuals to 
the government, but not from the government to individ- 
uals, nor between individuals. One of the arguments in 
favor of this bank, our minister was assured, was that it 
would counteract in some sort the influence of the United 
States : the usual patriotic leaven cropping up, it will be 
seen ; though how it should accomplish the purpose in 
view it is by no means easy to understand. A flood of 
depreciated paper is driving the solid coin out of circula- 
tion ; so that, while the traveller may be now able to 
carry his money comfortably about him, there may be 
much worse in store for the Mexicans themselves than 
the handling of bags of unwieldy dollars. It is not 
pleasant to see also that the government shows some 
unusual pecuniary embarrassment. Its expenditures for 
the last fiscal year exceeded its revenues by ten per cent., 
and a loan is talked of. Should a spirit of recklessness 
enter into the management of the finances, in all this 
whirl of novelties, complicated by the issues of paper, a 
crisis might be precipitated, which would, of course, have 
to be counted among the retarding influences on the rail- 


Shops and shopping in Mexico follow much more Eu- 
ropean than American traditions. A fanciful title over 
the door of the shop takes the place of the name of a firm 


or single proprietor. You have no Smith & Brown, but, 
instead — on the sign of a dry-goods store, for instance — 
" The Surprise," or " The Spring-time," or " The Explo- 
sion." A jeweller's is apt to be called " The Pearl," or 
" The Emerald ;" a shoe-store, " The Foot of Yenus," or 
" The Azure Boot." 

The windows are tastefully draped, after the way of 
shop -windows. Within stand a large force of clerks, 
touching shoulder to shoulder. They seem democratic 
in their manners, even by an American standard. They 
shake hands over the counter with a patron with whom 
they have enjoyed a slight previous acquaintance ; ask a 
mother of a famil}^ perhaps, after the health of "Miss 
Lolita" and "Miss Soledad," her daughters, who may 
have accompanied her thither. One of them, they hear, 
is going to be married. Perhaps this is accounted for 
by the presence among the minor clerks of some of con- 
siderable social position — some of the class you meet with 
afterward at the select entertainments of the Minister of 
Guatemala, for instance. But a limited choice of occu- 
pations has been open to the youth of Mexico, and those 
who cared to work have had to take such places as they 
could. They apply now with great eagerness for the 
positions of every sort offering under the new enter- 

It was not etiquette of late for ladies of the upper class 
to do shopping in public, except from their carriages, the 
goods being brought out to them at the curb-stone. I^qw 
they may enter shops. A considerable part of the buy- 
ing, as of furniture and other household goods, is still 
done by the men of the family. Nor was it etiquette 
for ladies to be seen walking in the streets, even with a 
maid, except to and from mass in the morning. 

The change in both respects is ascribed to the horse- 


cars. The point of ceremony, it appears, was founded 
somewhat upon the difficulty of getting about. 

Americanism now appears in the streets with increas- 
ing frequency, in the signs of dealers in arms, sewing- 
machines, and other of our useful inventions. Our in- 
surance companies, too, are a novel idea, to which the 
Mexicans seem to take with much readiness. The prin- 
cipal shopping hours are from four to six o'clock of the 
afternoon. From one till three, or even four, little is 
done. Even the horse-cars do not run in the middle of 
the day. There is a general stoppage of affairs for din- 
ner. It is but a short time since that enterprising per- 
son, the commercial traveller, was unknown in the coun- 
try, but now he begins to flourish here as elsewhere. 

The profits of favorably situated houses, in the absence 
of keen competition, have been very large, and methods 
of doing business correspondingly loose. The Mexican 
merchant does not go into a fine calculation of the pro- 
portionate value of each item of a foreign invoice, but 
"lumps" the profit he thinks he ought to receive on the 
whole. Some articles, in consequence, can be bought at 
less than their real value, while others, in compensation, 
are exorbitantly advanced. 

It is the smaller trade, and that most removed from 
metropolitan influences, which is the gayest and most 
entertaining as a spectacle. How many picturesque mar- 
ket scenes does not one linger in ! Each community has 
its own market-day, not to interfere with others. The 
flags of the plaza and market-houses, which are commodi- 
ous and well built, are hidden under fruits, grains, cocoa 
sacks and mats, striped blankets and rehosos, sprawling 
brown limbs, embroidered bodices and kirtles, as if spread 
with a thick, richly colored rug. A grade above the open 
market is the Parian^ a bazaar of small shops, in which 




goods, sales-peojDle, and customers alike might all be put 
upon canvas only with the most vivid of hues. 

I give some ex- 
amples of the 
street architecture 
of the more im- 
portant shops. 
The approach to 
many is under the 
welcome jportales^ 
shady in sunshine 
and dry in the 
wet. I^ot a few 
of the shops have 
been old Spanish 
palaces before be- 
ing adapted to 
their present use. 
I transferred to 
my sketch-book a 
bit from the lead- 
ing merceria (dry- 
goods store) of the 
important minor 
city of Puebla 
which I thought 
particularly inter- 
esting. It was 
called, after the 
prevailing fash- 
ion, "The City of Mexico." The entire front — upon 
which still remained the carved escutcheon, showing that 
it had been the residence of a family of rank — was faced 
up between carvings, in a gay pattern in tiles, the figures 
glazed, the rest an un glazed ground of red. 






The persons who once lived in these old Spanish pal- 
aces, and descendants of the titles of nobility existing be- 
fore the Independance, are still much esteemed in a certain 
small circle in the country. There are pointed out to you 
those who should by right be marquises and counts, and 
the titles are occasionally given them. The Mexican no- 
bles, from the time of Cortes down, lived in magnificent 
style in their day. The Count of Eegla, who has left his 
trace after him in many directions, must have enjoyed 
almost the state of royalty. A single hacienda of his in 
Michoacan was thirty leagues in length by seventeen in 
breadth, and, sloping down from the temperate plateau 
to the tropic, comprised in its extent the products of al- 
most every clime. He fitted out two ships of the largest 
size, building them of mahogany and cedar, and pre- 
sented them to the King of Spain. Inviting his majesty 
to visit the country, he assured him that his horse should 
tread on nothing but ingots of silver from the coast to 
the capital. 

A remnant of the old noblesse rallied around Maximil- 
ian when he came to assume the Emperor's crown. With 
this, and what remains of Maximilian's court, and some 
few other families of a peculiarly exclusive turn, a circle 
is constituted somewhat corresponding to the Parisian 


raubourg St. Germain. They are sometimes stigmatized 
as "Mochos," literally hypocrites. They are rich, pass 
much of their time abroad, protest against the sequestra- 
tion of the Church property, and exhibit a refined horror 
at the vandalism of these later times. 

" The government," they tell you, " is in the hands of 
the populacho, the rabble ; the gente honrada^ respectable 
society, has nothing to do with it." 

In a novel which I have by a Mexican writer, Cuellar, 
a secretary of legation at Washington, the scene is laid 
in this faction or clique. " Chona," or Incarnacion, the 
heroine, or leading feminine character, " had been brought 
up from childhood more to abhor than admire. The con- 
versations in the family continually turned upon the 
utter antipathy which the men and things of Mexico 

" They had for visitors Church notables and those of 
the w^ealthy who still retained the parchments of their 
ancestry. If they made any new acquaintance it was 
some Spaniard lately come into relations with them 
through the business of their estates." 

The fashionable men in the story have been educated 
at Paris, and become elegantly hlase there as w^ell. In 
contrast to these is shown one Sanchez, a vulgar, pushing 
fellow, upheaved from the depths by the revolutions. 
He has the " gift of gab," which he has utilized to make 
himself a figure in politics; has enriched himself with the 
spoils of the Church establishment, and secured a good 
place under government. He more than hints, however, 
when he is found to have finally lost it, that he is ready 
to engage in upsetting " Don Benito " — it is now under 
the regime of President Juarez that the scene is laid — or 
in any other convulsion that may promise to again mend 
his fortunes. 



I do not quite know which side the writer himself is 
on, in this satirical work ; it is so bitter all around. It is 
certainly interesting as showing two such boldly distinct 
types, one of them at least picturesque, evolved out of 
the peculiar conflicts of the country. Let us hope that 
there are few of the dangerous Sanchez pattern in the 
present juncture of affairs. The Mochos cannot now be 
numerous nor dangerous, with the wholesale victorj^ of 
middle or lower class republicanism around them. They 
hav^e taken little part, voluntarily, in the successive revo- 
lutions since their own overthrow, leaving them rather to 
be fought out by professional soldiers of fortune. They 
temporize a little; attend, perhaps, the wedding of some 
rich railway contractor's daughter, in order, as they say, 
not to draw upon themselves a direct enmity ; but they 
do not open their own houses in return ; they do not 

Don Sebastian Lerdo, spoken of as the most scholarly 
President the country ever had, is conceded to have been 
to a considerable extent " in society." He was expelled 
by Poriirio Diaz, and is now in retirement at New York. 
The political class since that time has either not been 
well received in the circle spoken of, or, perhaps too busy 
with other affairs, has not greatly cared for it. 

Such being the case, there are few reunions, and these 
of an informal character. Nor do the officials give enter- 
tainments themselves. Social gayeties, as we understand 
them, can hardly be said to exist in Mexico. It is only 
under the neutral roofs of the foreign ministers that they 
take place with some satisfaction. I had the good fortune 
to be at the capital during the visit of General Grant, and 


to see a social movement which, by the general testimony, 
was quite phenomenal. There was, among the rest, a 
fashionable wedding, attended by the President and his 
cabinet. A " reception " and banquet were given in the 
evening on the occasion of the signing of a civil contract 
between the parties. The religious ceremony took place 
at church next day. The interior courts of the house 
were wreathed with flowers, and lent themselves palatial- 
ly to the festivity, as they always do. The banquet was 
spread along the bases of the columns of the arcade. 

The young Mexican women are still kept apart from 
the other sex, and made love to chiefly on their balconies 
in the good old-fashioned, romantic style. Their man- 
ners when met with in public, however, are not so un- 
usual as might be expected. They seem neither more 
nor less diffident than elsewhere. They are allowed to 
take part at balls in a slow M^altz called the daiiza — so 
slow as hardly to be a dance at all — which is chiefly an 
opportunity for conversation. 

The high-contracting parties to the marriage above- 
mentioned were by no means young, and in general the ex- 
ceeding precocity of development and early age of enter- 
ing into the marriage relation supposed to be characteristic 
of the tropics were not apparent. It was said that merce- 
nary considerations were not frequent, and claim was laid 
to a good deal of simplicity and honest affection in the 
settlement of these matters ; though how the parties get 
at each other, under the restrictive system, sufficiently to 
enter upon a simple and honest affection, is one of those 
things that remain a mystery. It is said that the young 
woman who remains single is not stigmatized for it in the 
common way as " old maid." They say very charmingly 
instead : " She is difficult. She is hard to suit." 

In the country the match-making is often taken charge 



of by the village priest, who brings the parties together 
finally at dinner. 

As a general remark, the manners of the lower class of 
the country are much better than ours, and those of the 
upper are not as- good — not as often based upon real 
kindliness of heart and genuine desire to be of service. 
The Mexican promises a hundred things which he has no 
intention, often no ability, of performing. The Ameri- 
can is not without his faults — the more's the pity — but 
in a general way he aims to do as he agrees. He will 
often make against the Mexican the reproach of a certain 
slipperiness — a lack of appreciation of the importance of 
adhering to his word. 


Each considerable group of foreign residents, as the 
French, Germans, and Spaniards, has its handsome casino, 
or club-house, which is a standing resource for the diver- 
sion of members. 

A French traveller as far back as 1838 complains of 
the unsociable conduct of the Mexicans. If something 
of the kind be still observed, therefore, it is not new. 
" They abound," he says, " in a superfluity of fine 
phrases, and it is in this easy way that they discharge 
themselves of their obligations." 

All who know European life, however, are aware that 
the theatre and the cafe, with people of the Latin race, 
largely take the place of the social visiting and entertain- 
ing at home prevailing among Anglo-Saxons. Our next- 
door neighbors, after all, may only have followed, making 
a little more severe, the traditions of Old Spain. Ladies 
do not often appear at the cafes, but they are often 
at their boxes at the theatres, to which they subscribe 
by the season ; and they would go more frequently yet, 


. -^/ '^y^y>y'JA 



no doubt, were the pieces as a rule better worth their 
consideration. There are three large, well-built theatres, 
the Nacional, Principal, and Arbeu, and minor ones for 
the working-class. 

The entertainments esteemed of chief importance are 
those of the French opera companies which come over 
from Havana, on their rounds. A native Spanish opera- 
bouffe and ballet, called zarzuela^ is much given at other 
times. For the rest, the theatrical pieces presented are 
the works, in prose and verse, of the Spanish dramatists 
current at home, or occasionally of some native dramatist, 
announced with an extra flourish which his production 
does not usually justify. They are all announced with 
a sufficient flourish, so far as that is concerned. There is 
always going on some especially Gran Funcion, as, for 
example : 

" The grand Drama of Customs, Entirely New, in 
three acts and verse, by the distinguished poet, D. Leo- 
poldo Cano, author of the precious comedy, ' La Mariposa,' 
entitled 'La Opinion Publica.' 

" This sublime work of the distinguished poet, D. Leo- 
poldo Cano," the bill goes on to say, "was received at 
Madrid with an astounding acclaim. The Spanish Press 
has lavished upon it a thousand eulogies. * ^ * In choos- 
ing it for the second subscription night, we feel that the 
public will know how to value it as it truly merits, and to 
value at the same time the skill of the Company in their 
most finished studies and essays." 

I do not recollect any of this as very novel, or likely to 
be of interest if translated, apart from some portions de- 
pending upon such a difference of manners and customs 
as to be hardly intelligible to an American audience. My 
acquaintance with the tlieatre began with a piece at the 
Nacional, called " The First Patient." There was a young 


doctor on the stage, and an acquaintance of his had fallen 
in love with his wife, and put a note in her work-basket 
by way of telling her so. The note was conveyed to the 
husband, who, instead of shooting the imprudent writer, 
took occasion presently to assume a look of horror, and 
pretend that the latter had gone blind. Before the Lo- 
thario could protest, a bandage was clapped over his eyes, 
medicaments given to make him believe in his own mis- 
fortune, and he was put under a course of onerous treat- 

After a series of absurd situations he was finally re- 
leased, persuaded by degrees that he was cured. The 
patient raised the bandage. " Yeo ! veo P^ — " I see!" — he 
exclaimed, in wild delight. 

" Yery well, then — see that !" said the husband, thrust- 
ing the offending letter under his nose. 

This was amusing enough, but I was quite as much 
amused all the time with the studious efforts of a com- 
panion who had come with me — the French engineer sent 
out to examine mines, before mentioned — who proposed 
to turn the theatre into a school of languages. He 
grasped at every word a semblance of which he seemed 
to catch, and dived for verifications of it into his gram- 
mar and dictionary. He resented in his ambition any 
interpretation of passages which he did not himself orig- 
inate, and constructed such a theory of the play as its 
author would by no means have recognized. When the 
denouement came, in the bold ^^Yeo P^ he seized upon it 
with avidity. 

" ' Yeo^ dest Men trouve ga — ' veo^ " he said, reflect- 
ively, digesting it at his leisure. '^Je vais le retenir ce 
^veof voiis-cdlez voirP 

And so he did, and proceeded to use it vigorously in 
the restaurants and the like on the following day. 



Though so much more be still proposed, there are cer- 
tainly some reasons for self-complacency in the country 
even from the American point of view. Education is 
found to be provided for in a manner that awakens admi- 
ration and surprise. The primary schools are least looked 
after, but the pupils who pass through these with a dispo- 
sition to go farther have an array of advantages open to 
them at the capital superior to anything of a parallel sort 
in the United States. The Government maintains na- 
tional schools respectively of engineering, law, medicine, 
agriculture, mechanic arts, and trades (for both sexes), a 
conservatory of music, an academy of fine arts, and a 
library, provided with an edifice that ISTew York well 
might envy. It maintains a museum, institutions for 
blind, deaf and dumb, and insane, for orphans, and young 
criminals, and a long list besides of the usual charities of 
enlightened communities. The schools are open without 
money and without price to all, and there are even funds 
to provide board, lodging, and pocket-money for students 
from a distance, who are selected on certain easy condi- 

The students in agriculture pass some months of the 
year at the haciendas to observe different crops and cli- 
mates. The graduates of the School of Arts and Meas- 
ures go out into the world prepared to make their living 
as carpenters, masons, photographers, electro-platers, and 
at numerous other trades. Before an opinion is passed 
upon Mexican civilization the accommodations and neat 
uniforms of tlie pupils of the blind institute should be 
seen ; the noble building erected in the last century for 
the School of Mines ; the beautifully clean, wide corridors. 


sunny class-rooms, embroidery -rooms, dormitories, and 
drawing-rooms of the Viscaynas, the national college for 
girls; and the arcades and charming central garden of 
the National Preparatory School (in the professions) for 
young men. 

There was a fountain spouting among tropical plants 
in the garden of the Preparatory School the day I went 
there, and by the fountain was a young panther, or lion, 
of the country, as they call it, confined in a cage. The 
students, young fellows, who did not differ so greatly from 
Yale and Harvard undergraduates in aspect, except for 
the dusky Indian complexions among them, came now 
and then and stirred up the lion a little, making him play 
with a ball in his cage. They seemed to prepare their 
recitations walking around the garden or sitting in the 
ample corridors. 

The principal text -books are studied in French or 
English, in which languages they are apt to be written, 
and the recitations are conducted in the same lan£:uao:es: 
so that, what is so rare with us, graduates emerge from 
these schools very tolerable linguists w^ithout ever having 
been out of their own country. 

All these institutions are housed for the most part in 
the vast ancient convent edifices, which furnish ample 
quarters to whatever is in need of them — to barracks, 
hospitals, post-offices, prisons, railway stations, iron foun- 
deries, and cotton-mills. 

Each state of the republic, again, has its free college. 
Judging from that of the state of Hidalgo, how^ever, 
which I saw at Pachuca — its internal arrangements in a 
very filthy condition — all do not follow very closely the 
example of the capital. 

In the department of jails, unhappily, there is a defi- 
ciency. As at present arranged, they can present but 


moderate terrors to evil-doers. The really fine peniten- 
tiary at Guadalaxara is the only one in which modern 
ideas of penal discipline are followed. There is by law 
no death penalty at present. The number of nefarious 
criminals is kept down by semi-official lynchings, shoot- 
ing on capture, into which nobody ever inquires. Others 
are transported to Yucatan. There still remain enough, 
however, to make oue look with uneasiness on the slight- 
iiess of the means of restraint employed. The bolts and 
bars are often only lattices of wood instead of iron. At 
the city prison of Belen some two thousand persons are 
confined. It seemed to me that a large part of them 
must be much more comfortable than at their own squalid 
homes. They made a strange spectacle indeed, looked 
down upon in their large courts. Of all ages, and for 
sentences of all durations, they eat, sleep, and work at 
various light occupations together. No attempt is made 
to prevent their communicating or staring about. They 
have good air, light, and food, and are allowed a part of 
their own earnings. They take a siesta at uoon, play 
checkers, gossip, and even bathe luxuriously in a central 

The liberality toward education spoken of is the more 
creditable since the Mexican treasury is not flourishing, 
and a yearly deficit is more common than a surplus. 
These expenses appear to be regarded as essential, what- 
ever else may suffer. It is the more creditable, too, since 
the heads of the government do not indulge themselves 
in expensive surroundings. The American legislator is 
not himself without his marble colonnades and his furni- 
ture of black walnut upholstered in Russia leather; but 
President and Cabinet ministers here walk upon thread- 
bare carpets in the National Palace. The chamber of the 
Senate is a modest little hall ; and the Deputies sit in 


shabby quarters in another part of town, which were once 
simply a place of amusement, the Theatre Iturbide. 

The museum, chiefly of Aztec antiquities, to which one 
turns with interest, is not of the extent or informing 
character that may have been expected, and is under by 
no means brilliant management. Its greatest attraction 
is the arrangement of some of the larger fragments, par- 
ticularly the great sacrificial stone from the ancient tem- 
ple of the war-god, in the court-yard. There is a setting 
of shrubbery and vines about them, and the sunlight 
striking in among these upon the gray old remains, pro- 
duces some charming effects. 




The school of fine arts, on the other hand, the Acade- 
ni}^ of San Carlos — which was to celebrate with a special 
exhibition the one hundredth anniversary of its founda- 
tion — produces, botli in its collections and the ability of 
its directing professors, a most satisfactory and agreeable 
impression. You enter galleries which carry you back 
again to the Louvre and Uffizi. They used a great deal 
of bitumen, the old painters here. In its darkening it 
has left now and then onl}^ isolated lights upon a face or 
bits of drapery to glimmer out of a midnight gloom. It 
is an artificial taste, no doubt, to like it, and " caviare to 
the general;" but like it one does, at its most artificial, 
after a long absence from anything of the kind. 

The walls recall such galleries as that of Bologna in 
the liberal scale of the works displayed. With such 
models before them, there is no reason why students 
should fall into a niggling and petty style. As a matter 
of fact, they do not. They seem to excel in a bold, large 
composition and the rendering of grandiose ideas. This, 
rather than color, is their strong point. If our IN'ew York 
schools of art are able to equal the portfolio of drawings 
I saw as the result of a fortnightly exercise, they are cer- 
tainly not in the habit of doing so. Nor were they at all 
equalled by those of the prize competition of the students 


of the British Royal Academy which I saw in the first 
year of the presidency of Sir Frederick Leighton. This 
devotion to large academical ideas — the fortunes of Ores- 
tes, Regulus, arid Belisarius — it is true, is a source of 
weakness rather than strength from the money point of 
view. The market of the time demands a domestic, 
genre, realistic, and not a grandiose art. The market for 
art of any kind in Mexico is extremely small. There are 
no government commissions farther than an occasional 
portrait -or two, and enlightened patrons hardly exist. 
There are no pictures of consequence in the best Mexi- 
can houses. The predictions at Havana were not veri- 
fied. The abundance of native talent receives little en- 
couragement. Many a bright genius is forced to paint 
his inventions on the walls of jpulque shops, and finally 
to quit the profession for lack of support. 

The subjects are, for the most part, severely religious, 
in consonance with the taste of the wealthy convents, the 
patrons of art for whom they were originally painted. 
The series is in a declining order of merit chronologi- 
cally. The earliest Mexican masters are the best. They 
came from Europe, contemporaries of Murillo, Ribera, the 
Caracci, trained in the splendid Renaissance period at its 
acme, and they left here works which do it no discredit, 
Mexico was a hundred years old already, and it was high 
time that art should arise when Baltazar Echave began, 
somewhat after the year 1600. There is a romantic tra- 
dition that it was his wife who first taught him to paint. 

The genius of this early school is very decorative, and 
marked at once by refinement of sentiment, breadth, and 
vigor. It delights in rich stuffs and patterns, in the 
glitter of plate and w^eapons. It fills up all portions of 
the canvas symmetrically, and colors with a subdued 
richness. I recall a St. Ildefonso, by Luis Juarez, as 



an exquisite work. The saint, in a rich red mantle, by 
a praying-desk and chair, both draped in the same color, 
is receiving from angels the paraphernalia of a bishop. 
The mantle of the nearest angel is in burnt sienna, and 
these warm red hues, relieved by cool whites, are repeated 
throughout. There is a group of six angel heads com- 
posed in an ellipse, and, in the air, a Virgin, with that 
bevy of fluttering angels about that take the place of 
clouds in landscape. The minor heads, painted chiefly 
from the same model, are full of sweetness and intelli- 

Arteaga has a noble St. Thomas ; Jose Juarez, a qnaint 
couple of child martyrs, Saints Jnsto and Pastor, who 
trudge along hand-in-hand like a pair of burgomaster's 
children (the scenes of their martyrdom shown in the 
background), while angels rain down upon them single 
pinks, roses, and forget-me-nots, carefully painted. A 
younger Baltazar Echave, and Juan and Nicolas Kodri- 
guez, are of almost equal force. 

A second period begins with Ibarra and Cabrera — the 
latter very much the better — at the end of the same cen- 
tury. They are without the same distinction. Their 
figures have a bourgeois air. They aim to be pictorial 
instead of decorative. The crude red and blue garments 
with w^iich we are monotonously familiar in religious art 
come in with them ; and the draperies, in smooth, large 
folds, are apparently made up out of their heads. 

The foreign gallery boasts many excellent works of the 
school of Murillo, and an original each of Murillo, Ei- 
bera, Carreno, Leonardo da Yinci, Teniers the elder, and 
Ingres, wdth also probable Yandycks and Rembrandts. 

A collection has also been formed of works of merit, 
contributed to the regular biennial exhibitions, and pur- 
chased by the Academy to illustrate modern Mexican 


art. The religions tradition still prevails to a large extent, 
though the subjects are now taken from the Scriptures 
instead of the Bollandists. They are Hagar and Ishmael, 
the good Samaritan, the Hebrews by the waters of Baby- 
lon, and Noah receiving the olive-branch, and the like. 

There is in this contemporary work the general fault 
of an over-delicacy and smoothness of painting, and a lack 
of realism, while the design is excellent. These voyagers 
in the ark have not experienced the woes of a deluge, 
and the shepherds have the complexion of Lady Yere de 
Yere. Eebull, who studied at Rome under Overbeck, 
repeats here the dove -colors, violets, and lemon -yellows 
of the modern decorations of the Yatican done under 
that school. 

The works of the latest period, under the able direc- 
tion of Sefior Salome Pina, a pupil of Gleyre, are much 
more virile, and the subjects more secular. We have 
now Bacchus and Ariadne ; the death of Atala ; the slay- 
ing of the sons of jS^iobe ; an arch and dainty Cupid poi- 
soning a flower, by Ocaranza ; a charming fisher-boy, by 
Gutierrez. Some of the artists have had the advantage 
of study also abroad. The strongest of them all, Felix 
Parra, now enjoying a grand prize of Rome, produced 
the masterpiece, a great canvas representing the friar 
Las Casas protecting the. Aztecs (from slaughter by the 
Spaniards) — a work in sentiment, drawing, and color 
worthy to hang in any exhibition in the world — before 
he had seen any other country than his own, 

Yelasco has set a powerful lead in landscape. He is 
especially a master of great distance. His favorite theme 
is the curious, sienna-colored Yalley of Mexico, which he 
paints to the life. 

There are some scattered works of the early school, 
besides, in the houses of a few dilettanti at the capital 


and Puebla ; and some few in the cathedrals of the same 
places, thongh scarcely to be seen, from their disadvan- 
tageous positions. Good pictures need not be looked for 
in the churches. No doubt thej were once numerous, 
but they have been sacked from the country by invaders 
and others, and found a profitable market abroad. 


In sculpture there is talent corresponding to that in 
painting. The stately system of burial, in the panteons, 
lends itself to sculpture and furnishes opportunities which 
with us are relegated to the commonplace tombstone- 
makers. The panteon is a solid city of the dead, walled 
in, paved, and with courts and arcades like a city of the 
living. The monument of greatest note is that, by Man- 
uel Islas, at the Pantheon of San Fernando, to Benito 
Juarez, " the second Washington " of his countrj^ old 
Padre Hidalgo having been the first. His effigy in 
marble, so realistic and corpse-like that it seems to have 
been modelled from an actual cast in plaster, lies upon 
a mausoleum, with a figure of Fame bending over it. 
The realism of the principal figure is almost repulsive, 
but it is redeemed by the grace of the angel, and no- 
body can deny to this large work great vigor and dignity. 

The bodies are not buried, but sealed up in mausolea, 
or in niches in a wall, which present somewhat the aspect 
of a Roman columbarium. Some of the monuments are 
of the lovely Mexican onyx, with letters in gilt. I noted 
one bearing only the initials M. M. They were alluring 
to the curiosity, and on inquiring I found tliat it was that 
of Miramon, general-in-chief of Maximilian, who fell by 
the executioners' bullets, witli his master, and General 
Mejia, at Queretero. 


There were no flowers on this one to-day, but the 
tombs of the patriots were elaborately decked, for it was 
the great festival of the Cineo de Mayo. 

I walked out and stood in the round -point by the 
colossal bronze statue of Charles lY, The Paseo de la 
Reforma and the causeways glittered with bayonets ; the 
cadets were coming down from the Military School back 
of Chapultepec, and the garrison from the Citadel, to join 
in the procession. The troops were reviewed in front of 
the National Palace — as troops in smaller numbers seem 
always being reviewed there. They are mainly of Indian 
blood, and small in stature. The cavalry especially had 
a rusty look in their outfit, and did not compare with the 
dashing Rurales. The officers, on the other hand, are 
trimly uniformed and quite French in aspect. There 
were patriotic speeches in the Zocalo ; the main thorough- 
fare was strung with lanterns ; and our Iturbide hotel was 
very picturesque, with its three tiers of balconies draped 
in the national colors — green, white, and red. 

From time to time, as the procession moved, cannon 
were fired in the Plaza, and the bells of the cathedral 
turned over and over, like the w^ieels of machinery. I 
never saw a better-conducted crowd. There was no fight- 
ing, no inconvenient elbowing, no drunkenness. In the 
evening the lanterns were lighted, and the great square 
was filled with venders of fruits and knickknacks, around 
little bonfires of sticks, where they would bivouac for the 
riight. Later, red lights were kindled in the towers of 
the cathedral, and every detail within stood out upon a 
lurid ground as if they were burning. One could imag- 
ine the camped venders in the square to be the ancient 
Aztecs resting upon their arms, in order to attack Cortez 
in his quarters on the morrow. 



Scarcely the same improvement is to be got from Mex- 
ican literature as from Mexican art, but it is not without 
its interest, both in itself and as an aid to knowledge of 
the people. 

Journals are very numerous. They are started upon 
slight provocation, and as easily disappear. They attain, 
as a rule, but a circulation of a few hundred copies. It 
is thought that the Monitor Repiiblicano^ by far the most 
important, may circulate from six to eight thousand. The 
problem of existence for many of them would be diffi- 
cult without government aid. Subventions are given, 
without public objection, so far as I have observed, to 
the greater part of those managed with ability. The 
system of subventions to the press was begun by our old 
friend of school history, Santa Anna, and has been con- 
tinued ever since by governments which could not afford 
to have anything more than the truth told about them, 
at any rate. It is an encouraging sign, however, that the 
Monitor is not a subventioned organ, yet speaks its mind 
temperately and without apparent malice. 

There is no efficacious law of libel, since extreme vio- 
lence of language is often indulged in by the periodicals 
in their controversies with each other and outsiders. The 
duel, which still survives, is somewhat of a coi-rective 
upon this. The newspaper is about such a one in appear- 
ance as at Paris, and includes a daily section of a serial 
story. A Sunday edition is published, with literary selec- 
tions, and particularly poems, in large supply. 

Actual literature as such is poorly paid. The reading 
public is small. A thousand copies is a good edition even 
for a popular book. The chief literary lights are found. 


as a rule, not of the shy, scholastic order, but possessed of 
talent for oratory and bustling affairs. They take posts 
in Congress, and are appointed as cabinet ministers. 
General Eiva Palacio, Juan Mateos, Prieto, Paz, Altimi- 
rano, Justo Sierra, Peza, are deputies ; Payno, a senator ; 
Cuellar, who wrote under the pseudonym of " Facundo," a 
secretary of legation. These are the native writers whose 
works are more frequently in the hands of the public 
than any others. 

Prieto, who is chiefly a poet, however, has written a 
book of his travels in the United States, in which some 
amusing things will be discovered. He linds that with 
us " the totality \lo colectivo] is grand and admirable, but 
the individual egoistic and vulgar." He saw Booth's 
Theatre, which is all of white marble {el Teatro de Both,, 
todo de mannol hlaiicd)', and, besides our hotels, the es- 
tablishment which we call a "Boarding" {el Boarding). 
The Hudson and East rivers, he says, are two arms of the 
sea, which freeze in winter, and even the immense quan- 
tity of ice collected from these does not suffice for the 
demands of tlie summer. 

The poetical talent, of which we had a premonition in 
Cuba, is that which principally abounds. There is plen- 
tiful skill in versifying, with here and there a strain 
of something very much higher, in the volumes of the 
numerous authors. Prieto, above-mentioned, is found 
principally a poet of " occasions." He writes for the 
unveiling of statues, to steam, electricity, and the like. 
Juan Mateos strikes a fierce patriotic note. Altimirano, 
a fiery Indian orator, who models himself in Congress 
rather after Mirabeau, chooses as his themes for poetry 
bees, oranges, poppies, morn, the pleasures of rural life. 
They are excellent subjects in themselves, but it is an 
artificial, and not a real, existence he describes. He 



would like to be Horatican, summons nymphs to disport 
with him in the shade, and abounds in florid terms, with- 
out thought. 

Carpio is inspired more or less by Biblical subjects, as 
Pharaoh and Belshazzar. In De Castro, Zaragoza, Gus- 
tave Baz, and Cuenca are found charming conceits, of 
pensive cast, and bits of description of a limpid purity. 
Jewellers in words they may be called at their best, affil- 
iated to the Venetian school. 

The argument of Zaragoza's " Armonias" (Harmionies) 
is briefly as follows : " When the flowers are dead, and 
spring is over, the swallows take their flight ; and when 
again the flowers of spring adorn the mead, they, too, 
return, bringing blessings on their wings. 

" But when the illusions depart and leave behind them 
only the thorns of the passions, in vain w^e invoke and 
wait for them to return. The illusions, the swallows of 
the heart, return, alas ! never." 

So Gnstave Baz, brooding in the sere winter over some 
heavy sorrow, reflects upon the return of spring. But 
the very contrast of its joyousness, the fresh rippling of 
the brooks and melody of the birds, will but render his 
sadness the heavier. " Then most keenly," he laments, 
" will break forth my grief. Then weightiest will the 
air be laden with my sighs." 

The gem of the Lyra Mexicana is undoubtedly a cer- 
tain fugitive sonnet, " A Bosario," by an unfortunate 
young man, Acuna, who ended by taking his own life. 
The poem expresses the charming ideals in love and the 
bitterness of its disappointment, in a youth of fine and 
sensitive nature. It has a poignancy and realism which 
have, perhaps, never been surpassed. He returned from 
a long journey, as the story is told, and found his be- 
trothed the wife of another. The shock proving unen- 


durable, he committed suicide, leaving to the faithless 
one the poem, a part of which may be thus rendered : 

" AYell, then, I have to say that I love you still, that I 
worship you with all my being. I comprehend that your 
kisses are never to be mine, that into your dear eyes I am 
never to look. . . . Sometimes I try to sink you into ob- 
livion, to execrate you. . . . But alas, how vain it is! my 
soul will not forget you. What \\\\\ you, then, that I 
should do, oh, part of my life ? What w^ill you that I 
should do with such a heart? . . . Oli, figure to yourself 
how beautiful might have been our existence together ! 
. . . But now that to the entrancing dream succeeds the 
black gulf that has opened between us — farewell! love 
of my loves, light of my darkness, perfume of all flowers 
that bloomed for me! my poet's lyre, my youth, fare- 
well !" 


If one try to select the most obvious trait in the na- 
tive fiction it is undoubtedly patriotism. This patriotism 
is rampant in the press, and in the forms of official life. 
The authorities are Citizen President, Citizen General, 
and the like, as in the first French Republic, and they 
conclude their official documents with the formula: 
" Liberty In The Constitution." The usurpation of 
Maximilian served to bind tlie country into a certain 
unity and awake this feeling to its utmost. 

Two romancers, General Riva Palacio, and Juan Ma- 
teos, have made use of the events of the French invasion 
in a curious class of bulky novels, to call them so, 
which have scored a popular success. " The Hill of Las 
Campaiias," and " The Sun of May," of Mateos, are re- 
spectively more or less authentic accounts of the final 
defeat and execution of Maximilian, and the defence of 


Puebla, slightly disguised. The "Calvary and Tabor," 
Riva Palacio, treats of the career of the Army of the 
Centre in the same wars. I^umbers of the characters 
therefore are persons actually living, to be met with 
every day, which gives to this fiction a singular effect. 

Thus, in " El Sol de Mayo," Manuel Payno, Altamira- 
no, and Riva Palacio himself are mentioned and their 
manners described in the debate on the financial measure 
which brought on the Intervention. Lerdo, long since an 
exile, resident in New York, was at that time " el jyro- 
feta inspirada de nuestra nacionalidad^^ (the inspired 
prophet of our nationality). 

I pick out from the same book this paragraphic men- 
tion of our own civil- war: "And Edmundo Lee shone 
like a star in the victories of Springfield and Bull Run." 
Perhaps the friends of General Robert E. Lee would 
have some difficulty in recognizing him under such a 

These novels are printed with each sentence as a sepa- 
rate paragraph, for easier reading. They first began to 
rival somewhat the popular Fernandez y Gonzalez, by 
some called " the Spanish Dumas," whose works are 
printed in the journals, together with translations of those 
of Gaboriau and Dickens. Another flimsy series, in 
covers of green, white, and red, called ''^Ejpisodios Nd- 
cioncdes^'' aim to sugar-coat a didactic exhibition of the 
events of the War of Independance. One individual 
after another tells a long, dreary narrative about what 
happened ; these fall in with somebody else who tells 
more, and so it goes. 

These stories are read chiefly by the middle and lower 
classes, the upper class, as in most provincial states of so- 
ciety, preferring books from abroad. Their favorable 
reception may be accounted for in part by the lack of 


regular histories and of newspaper intelligence, so that 
the populace may to some extent be getting their infor- 
mation for the first time. 

Riva Palacio has written also, with Manuel Payno, a 
large work appropriately called El Libro Bojo (The Red 
Book). It gives an account (and graphic illustrations) 
of the heroes and other notables in Mexican history w^ho 
have come to violent ends. This is a fate that has over- 
taken aspirants to distinction quite regularly, and the 
plates from the book, hung up at the book-stalls in the 
Portales, are a ghastly chamber of horrors. The three 
fighting curates of the early insurrection, Hidalgo, More- 
los, and Matamoras begin the series; and Maximilian, 
Mejia, and Miramon, standing with bandaged eyes at the 
Hill of las Campanas, for the present conclude it. 

Several minor writers have feebly essayed the Aztec 
material for fiction. Riva Palacio has availed himself 
also of the picturesque life under the Spanish viceroys. 
Of him it is to be said that, though of the sensational 
school, and careless in plan, he has, not unfrequently, 
passages of genuine force, and unhackneyed incidents 
that enchain the attention. 




It would seem that history in Mexico might be a some- 
what confusing study ; and so, in fact, it is. There have 
been fifty-four Presidents, one regency, and one Emperor, 
in fifty-six years, and a violent change of government 
with nearly every one. 

Picking up the little volume by Manuel Payno, used 
in the schools, and opening it at random, I find — 

" Question. — What events followed ? 

^''Answer. — Truly imagination is lost, and memory con- 
founds itself, among so many plans Siud jprommcia77ie7itos ; 
but we w^ill follow the thread as best we can." 

The period referred to is that of the revolt of Texas, 
which proceeded to constitute itself " The Lone Star Re- 
public." Looking a little farther with interest to see how^ 
this is accounted for, w^e find : 

" The settlers were North Americans, a portion, as we 
have said, colonized by Stephen Austin. They set up 
the pretext that they were not permitted to sell their 
lands, and, later, that the Federal Constitution had been 
violated ; and they rose against the Government. The 
latter felt it necessary to put down the rebellion, and 
took measures to assail that remote and sterile State." 

These dispositions, as we know, ended in the defeat and 
capture of Santa Anna at San Jacinto. There is always a 


fascination in being behind the scenes, and I confess that 
this little opportunity of finding out what was thought 
of itself by a country which has jarred so much with our 
own was one of the attractions of being in Mexico. The 
American war is accounted for as a wicked attempt to 
sustain and annex the revolted province of Texas ; and 
equally good solutions are found for the various other 
invasions by foreign powers. 

What ! is there no absolute right ? Are all combatants 
alike striking for their altars and their fires, and resisting 
wanton aggression ? Will not these Mexicans even yet 
admit, though beaten, and though it has passed into his- 
tory, that they terrorized our frontier, and oppressed an 
industrious and enterprising province ? Why, then, per- 
haps both sides were wrong; and let us aspire for the 
day when all such quarrels may be settled by an interna- 
tional arbitration. 


The young Mexican learns first about his Aztec ances- 
try, the mild semi -civilized aborigines, who built cities 
and temples, and were ruled by luxurious Montezuma and 
scholarly Nezhualcoyotl. The latter, at Texcoco, was a 
maker of verses and stoical maxims like another Marcus 

Cortez conquered the Aztecs in 1519. Then followed 
a government of nearly three hundred years by sixty-four 
Spanish viceroys. A rebellion, of eleven years' duration, 
marked by many of the features of a servile uprising, 
drove out the Spaniards in 1821. Grasping and incon- 
siderate in their colonial management as their way has 
always been, the Spaniards had probably only themselves 
to thank for it. 

Iturbide, who commanded the revolt at the end, made 


himself briefly Emperor. His generals, notably the irre- 
pressible Santa Anna, who first here comes into view, 
rose against him, and proclaimed a Federal Eepublic. 
Santa Anna, when the opportunity offered, made himself 
Dictator, and changed the Federal Eepublic to a central- 
ized republic, and the states to departments. Santa 
Anna had numberless ups and downs, having obtained^ 
possession of the supreme power no less than six times, 
with intervals of overthrow and banishment. 

Tlie Federal Eepublic was reconstituted in time, with 
twenty-seven states, one territory and a federal district, 
pretty much on the model of our own, and it still re- 
tains this form, as it is likely to. There is no doubt 
about the democratic tendency of the people, but perhaps 
it is something in the impulsive blood of the Latin race 
wdiich has prevented the leaders from conceiving a repub- 
lic on the Anglo-Saxon plan. They have been inspired 
almost without exception by a craving for the sweets of 
power. Their rampant patriotism has been like the re- 
ligion of those persons who would die for a cause, but will 
not live in accordance with the least of its dictates. There 
seems to have been no conception until lately of that 
larger patriotism which educates the people in their du- 
ties, and constitutes a state of society where the rights of 
all are guaranteed and people go about their avocations 
w^ithout interference. 


Would you recall, by-the-way, what became of Santa 
Anna ? He, who had so indignantly shaken off the yoke 
of Iturbide, wrote a missive of congratulation, while liv- 
ing in banishment in the West Indies, to Maximilian, and 
endeavored to take service under him. His aid was re- 
jected, whereupon he turned to Juarez, only to be re- 


pulsed again. In a rage at both sides, he fitted out an 
expedition on his own account, landed in the country, and 
was w^ell-nigh being shot, after the model, and almost on 
the same ground, as that Iturbide whom he had pro- 
nounced against forty-two years before. The court-mar- 
tial, however, spared his life, ''in consideration of the 
ancient services done to his country in Texas, at Tam- 
pico, and Vera Cruz," and sent him again, superannuated 
and poor (for he had squandered an ample fortune in this 
attempt), to finish his days in banishment. 

I cannot forbear going a little farther into the ques- 
tions and answers of the little history. Of the gallant 
generals who fought so well for the Independence, Vic- 
toria was the first President. Bravo pronounced against 
him, and was exiled to South America. Guerrero, de- 
feated as a candidate for the succession by Pedraza, took 
up arms and seized it by force. He repelled, while in 
office, a new attempt by the Spaniards to recover the 

" Question. — I suppose that with this triumph the gov- 
ernment of Guerrero was firmly established ? 

''A7isiver. — This was to have been hoped, but that 
happened which always happens in Mexico — just the 

Bustamente, in fact, pronounced against Guerrero ; and 
when the latter would have returned to the capital from 
an expedition designed to put down the revolt, he found 
it closed against him, and in favor of Bustamente also. 

" Q- — What end had this revolution ? 

'' A. — The most terrible that can be imagined. The 
Government at Mexico, feeling that it could not over- 
come Guerrero . . . bought over, for $70,000, a Geno- 
ese named Picaluga, who commanded a vessel anchored 
in the harbor of Acapulco. Picaluga invited Guerrero 


to dine on board, and this manifestation of hospitality 
was accepted in good faith. When tliey had dined the 
Genoese signified to Guerrero that he was a prisoner, and 
set sail with hitn to the port of Huatulco and delivered 
him into the hands of his enemies. This great and 
good man, valiant and worthy of tiie respect and grati- 
tude of the nation . . . was shot in the puebla of Cui- 
lapa, on the 15th of February, 1831." 

It was not till 1848, for the first time, that the 
Presidency was transferred without violence, and under 
the law. The incumbent was General Herrera, and he 
was succeeded peaceably by General^ Arista. These two 
administrations "will forever place themselves before 
historians, both Mexican and foreign," says the history^ 
" as models of honor, economy, and order." But Arista 
was deposed in two years, and in the next three months 
there were four Presidents, the last of them Santa Anna, 
on one of his periodic returns. 

Thus the turmoil of revolutions has continued down 
to recent times. A certain Don Jose Maria Gutierrez 
Estrada directed a letter to the authorities in 1840, pro- 
posing, as a measure of relief, that a monarchical gov- 
ernment should be established in Mexico ; and the idea, in 
the distracting state of things we have seen, cannot be 
considered wholly without reason. It caused great scan- 
dal nevertheless, but Gutierrez Estrada stuck to it tena- 
ciously, and, by a very singular coincidence, he was one 
of those who, twenty-four years after, went to Miramar 
to present the imperial crown to the Archduke Max- 

If I cite a number of such events from the past it is 
not for the purpose of being disagreeable or arguing 
that the same state of things is to last. It is partly 
because they are amusing, and partly to obtain a more 


encouraging point of view for the present. It will be 
seen that the later administrations, though not without 
their faults, are a vast improvement upon their predeces- 
sors, and do not constitute a declining ratio. 


General Porfirio Diaz occupied unmolested a full term, 
from 1876 to 1880, and handed over the place to General 
Manuel Gonzales, who holds it at present in the same 
security. Diaz began the current career of improvement 
by his liberal chartering of railroads, and Gonzales fol- 
lows in his track. Both must be considered to have 
made a most exemplary and promising use of their 
powers. But, since we have arrived at " Don Porfi- 
rio," let us see how he entered upon office in the be- 



Since he is, by general admission, the power behind the 
throne, the Mexican " Warwick," the President who has 
been, is, and is to be, let us inquire a little also who he 
was. "His influence in the country," says the Monitor^ 
"is decisive, incontestable. Something more than Een- 
itez in the past, he is not only the great commoner, but 
the one man of the present." 

Porfirio Diaz was born in Oaxaca, in 1830. His family 
destined him for tlie law, but he took to soldiering in- 
stead. Beginning as a private, he entered the city of 
Mexico as general-in-chief of the forces which wrested it 
from the French. Once in these wars, when a prisoner 
at Paebla, he let himself down by a rope from a tower 
and made his escape. His career is studded with ro- 
mantic incidents, but the career of what Mexican leader 
is not ? 

The Latin race admires the military type, and "Don 
Porfirio," or more familiarly "Porfirio," as the people de- 
light to call him, bethought him to turn his prestige in 
the field to account. He offered himself for the Presi- 
dency against Juarez, on the platform of no re-election, 
in 1871. Lerdo de Tejada, Chief Justice of the Supreme 
Court, was also in the field as a third candidate. Let the 
figures in this remarkable election be noted, as an indica- 
tion of the acute interest the Mexican voters take in their 
own balloting. In a population of 8,836,411 a total of 
only 12,361 votes were cast. Juarez received 5837, Diaz 
3555, Lerdo 2874, and 95 are recorded as " scattering." 

" Q. — Relate to me what happened thereafter. 

"J.. — General Porfirio Diaz issued, from his hacienda 
of La Noria, a manifesto, hence called the Plan of La 


Noria, repudiating the existing powers, and proposing to 
retain military command until the establishment of a new 
order of things." 

A bloody war of more than a year followed, in which 
the Porfiristas were utterly routed. Diaz, amnestied, pre- 
sented himself at the capital, and was affably received 
by Lerdo, who assured him, on the part of the Govern- 
ment, that he might live tranquil without fear of perse- 
cution or harm. "^N'othing," breaks forth our historian, 
in enthusiasm about these times, " gives a better idea of 
the constancy and elevation of the Mexican character, a 
heritage from its Spanish ancestry, than what passes in 
our w^ars, both civil and foreign. It appears that defeats 
but serve as stimulus and fresh aliment to the fi-ay." 

Upon what possible theory these ambitious chiefs have 
always made their partisans so ready to be slaughtered for 
them, is a speculation which I shall not go into. Porfirio 
now remained quiet till 1876, when he issued the Plan of 
Palo Blanco., and rose against Lerdo, who had succeeded 
Juarez. He captured Matamoras by a bold stroke of 
strategy ; was himself captured on shipboard ; and es- 
caped from the Lerdists by leaping into the sea, through 
the connivance of the French captain, whom he after- 
ward made consul to St. ^azaire. After a series of such- 
like adventures his persistence won the day, and Lerdo 
took to flight, " Don Sebastian " Lerdo is spoken of as 
probably the most scholarly and accomplished President 
the republic ever had. He had been a school - master, 
however, and tried to govern the country in the peda- 
gogue spirit to which he had been used. He lost favor, 
too, by his lack of military talent, and fled when his fort- 
unes W'Cre by no means desperate. The country people 
were strongly on his side at first, but this singular thing 
happened — that, finding him unable to protect them 


against the roving bands of revolutionists favoring Diaz, 
tliej joined them in disgnst, and went on with them to 
the capitaL 

It is upon such original guarantees that the authority 
which Porfirio has devoted to the extension of law and 
order and the benefits of civilization reposes. 

The subject of these remarks is a person neither talk- 
ative nor taciturn. He is of commanding height, a 
swarthy, half- Indian complexion, a figure stalwart but 
not heavy, and of a military yet somewhat nonchalant 
bearing, all of which may form a part of his attraction. 
He knows how to utilize the arts of peace as well as 
war. Perhaps he believes a little in the motto, " Let me 
make the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its 
laws ;" for the ballad-singers at Santa Anita, on the Yiga 
Canal, whither the populace swarm on Sundays to indulge 
in dancing, ^??^Z(/?.^^, taiaales^ and flowers from the floating 
gardens, have many a long-drawn refrain to the praises of 
Don Porfirio Di-i-i-az. It is hardly fair, perhaps, to sug- 
gest that these are subsidized, since they may rest upon 
pure admiration of his merits, after all. 

The Mexican law prohibits re-election, except after an 
interval of four years, and Porfirio Diaz was too ardent 
a one-termer to be able to overstep this prohibition with 
any consistency. He has placed his friend and fellow- 
soldier Gonzales in office as his locum tenens. He will 
assume it himself for the next term, dating from 18S4. 
After that — so the plan is supposed to be arranged — he 
will give it to General Trevino, his companion in arms 
and strong auxiliary in his pronunciamentos. Trevino 
has married the daughter of an American general, Ord, 


and it maj be supposed that American interests will not 
suffer in his hands. 

Porfirio is romantic even in his Machiavellianism. 
The only source from which he might have had any- 
thing to fear was perhaps a lingering Lerdist sentiment. 


It represents, or represented, a conservative element, of 
better social position than the nide democratic force in 
power. He set to work to conciliate this Lerdist senti- 
ment. He has been able to take of late the effectual 
means of marrying into the very midst of it, having 
chosen for his third wife the daughter of Senator Eo- 
mero Kubio. Romero Eubio was the right-hand man of 
Lerdo, and his companion in exile. He is now president 
of the Senate, and the official who is empowered by law 
to call and control a new election, in case of a vacancy in 


the Presidency of tlie nation. Gonzales suffers from an 
old wound, received at Puebla, and it has been thought 
by some that Diaz might need to be called to the chair 
even before the appointed limit of time. 

Nor could he have had any personal repugnance to 
overcome in this match. His usual good-fortune attends 
him. The young lady is under twenty, accomplished, 
and of a high-bred air. She will be recollected by Amer- 
icans as among the prettiest of the belles who took part 
in the round of festivities given in honor of General 
Grant at his last visit. This, too, will be pleasing to the 
people. Don Porfirio means that the people shall be 
pleased. When General Grant, on his first visit to the 
country in his tour around the world, was the curiosity 
and hero of the hour, Porfirio was his inseparable at- 
tendant and courteous host. A certain resemblance was 
traced between them. Both had been illustrious gener- 
als, both presidents. When Grant returned a second 
time, and was now less popular, on account of his inter- 
est in the railway concessions, and a jealousy which had 
meantime arisen of American aggression, Don Porfirio 
was unfortunately obliged to be far distant, distributing 
charity to sufferers on the northern confines of the re- 

The work of conciliation has long been going on. Old 
functionaries have been reinstated in place ; veteran army 
officers have been approached and offered new commands. 
One of these latter told me that President Gonzales had 
sent for him, after having kept an espionage on his con- 
duct for some time, and asked him, in a bluff way, 

"Why do you continue to talk against the Govern- 
ment, and pass your time in idleness — you wdio were 
once so good a soldier?" 

"Sir," he replied, "you know my sentiments, and the 


cause for which I fought. I cannot deny that I hold 
them still. I take the consequences. I have pawned 
my valuables and clothing for food. If I rust in idleness 
it is because I have no occupation to turn to." 

"I admire your manliness," the President replied. 
"Here is your appointment to the command of a regi- 
ment. Your cause is dead, as you know, and cannot be 
revived. I ask of you no political services. I ask of 
you only to be as before — a soldier." 

It is needless to say that after this there was at least 
one Lerdist the less. 

I do not wish to be understood as finding fault with 
this policy of astute conciliation ; far from it. The ham- 
mer-and-tongs method has been so long in vogue that it 
is a delightful relief. The chicanery of matrimonial al- 
liances, and assumption of frank and soldierly manners, 
will be w^elcoraed by all the foreign capital in the coun- 
try as a great improvement upon throat-cutting. 

From vast estates in Oaxaca, which with a commend- 
able economy he has amassed meantime, the Mexican 
Warwick, controls the destinies of his country with an 
ease like moving one's little finger. He pleases himself 
in the interim to be governor, and commander of the 
forces, of this fighting state. In the absence of any 
efficient electoral system the country is under his abso- 
lute dictatorship; while, with the ostensible division of 
powders, there is no way of tracing the responsibility to 
its source. 

[N'ot that there is the least danger of anybody's trying 
to do so. There are apparent Brutuses in both Houses 
of Congress, orators and poets who have turned off many 
a diatribe and many an ode to freedom on the best classic 
and French republican models, but they have nothing to 
say against this Csesar. They are not very free agents, 


to tell the truth. They are really sent by the governors 
of the respective states, and these governors have been 
manipulated in advance. Porfirio can undoubtedly make 
threats as well as promises ; and an unlucky representa- 
tive, if content to forego a better place, may even lose 
the one he has. He cannot depend upon adequate sup- 
port, either, should he have a notion to resist. The 
" boys " are much given to " going back " on one another 
in Mexican history. 

I shall be found fault with by some persons, as likely 
as not, for undue severity. He is a beneficent Caesar, 
after all, compared with former times; he has brought 
back something like a Golden Age ; he oppresses nobody, 
at least, not the foreigners, and gives a stimulus to every 
worthy enterprise. 

So be it; and probably there is no more genial gov- 
ernment than a Csesarism of the beneficent sort, fairly 
established. But it is too full of dangers. Porfirio is 
doing nothing to educate the nation. " In effect," one 
of his own papers says to him, "it is not alone with rail- 
ways that a nation so disorganized as ours can reconsti- 
tute itself; not alone the locomotive and the telegraph 
that can make us happy. There should emanate from 
the regions of power something like an impulse of obedi- 
ence to the law and observance of the institutions upon 
which the social and political well-being of the country 

It is not probable that there will soon again be serious 
disturbances. " All the grabbers have got places," say 
some critics of a C3mical turn, " and there will be no more 
revolutions." A better saying, however, is current: "A 
bad government is preferable to a good revolution." 
There is a weariness of fighting. The country seems to 
savor the little-known luxury of peace with a positive 


gusto. The railways diminish the chance of trouble by 
for the first time furnishing ample employment to the 
idle, who formerly occupied themselves in plunder and 
were ready to follow the banners of insurgent chiefs. 
They will be a potent military engine in enabling the 
Government to mass its forces at points of danger. The 
fear, too, may be present of interference by foreign gov- 
ernments, should the enterprises of their citizens be 
threatened with serious damage by new upheavals. 

Still, there are great administrative abuses. The civil 
service is notoriously corrupt. Opportunities for galling 
oppression are open to the governments, both federal 
and state, and, most ominous of trouble, redress by the 
ballot is not possible. The anomaly is presented of a 
republic in which there is no census nor registration of 
voters, no scrutiny of the ballot-box except by the party 
in power. There is hardly a ray of interest in the polit- 
ical machine by the people themselves. The number of 
votes cast at elections is pitifully small, as we have seen. 
It is not considered worth while to vote. The lower 
classes read no informing journals, have no public speak- 
ers. No organized opposition exists. Such opposition 
as there is is purely personal. All contests for office are 
personal, and not a matter of principles. The Govern- 
ment — that of the centre influencing the states, and these 
in turn the communities — sustains and counts in w^hat 
candidates it pleases. There are no data for objection, 
since nobody can point to the real number of voters in 
a given place, nor their names. 

When this is understood it seems to a"ccount for almost 
all that has happened. There is absolutely no remedy 
for oppressive domination but in rebellion. With the 
best of dispositions, the most entire patience, what has 
happened in the past may happen again. 


If there be any statesmanship in Mexico, may we not 
hope to see some champion arise to remedy this, instruct 
the masses in their rights, enumerate and register them, 
and insure them the first essential of a free government 
— an accurate and unfettered suffrage? 





The saying is current that " Outside of Mexico all is 

It shows that the capital entertains a true Parisian es- 
teem for itself, and a corresponding contempt for the rest 
of the country. Cuatitlan is a little village twenty-five 
miles to the northward, reached by a narrow-gauge rail- 
road, built by Mexicans, but purchased by the Mexican 
Central. It w\as at Cuatitlan that I saw my first bull- 
fight. It is one of the two places in the vicinity where 
the capital thus amuses itself, the sport being prohibited 
in town. In some states, as Zacatecas, it is abolished en- 

There were five bulls killed that day, and three horses, 
but no men — unfortunately, the novice in these cowardly 
and disagreeable representations is inclined to think. 
Each bull came in ignorant of the fate of his predeces- 
sor, and ran at the streamers with a playful air. You felt 
like scratching his back and calling him "good old fel- 
low," instead of waiting to see presently his pained aston- 
ishment and torture, his glazing eye and staggering step, 
and death like that of an actor in melodrama. The horses 
were wretched hacks, allowed to be gored purposely as a 
part of the spectacle. They were driven around the ring 



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afterward till they dropped, and their life-blood poured 
with an audible noise, like the spatter of a rivulet. Upon 
which the boisterous youth of Mexico, of the lower class, 
cried '^Bello!^'' '^Bellissimo!^'^ in frenzied delight. 

The gray old walls of the parish church, immense, and 
of excellent design (as they all are), rise above the amphi- 
theatre. Within are figures of saints grotesquely adorned, 
or realistically horrible, in the usual style. The devout 
Indians are not archaeologists, and have no idea of paying- 
honor other than as they understand it. I have it on 
authority that when left to themselves they have been 
known to equip the Saviour of the "World in a twenty- 
dollar hat, chajparreras (a kind of riding breeches), spurs, 
sabre, and revolver, sparing no expense to make him a 
cavalier of the first fashion. 

The houses of the town, built of concrete or adobe, 
sometimes plastered and tinted, are of one story. There 
are some small portals for the use of out-of-door merchants, 
a few pulquerias^ and thread-needle shops, and a 7rie8on, 
or inn, "of the Divine Providence," where enormous- 
wheeled wagons are corralled in line, and muleteers sleep 
upon their packs, as in the times of Don Quixote. 

This is Cuatitlan, this the Mexican village, which can 
be dreary enough to one who does not look at it with the 
fresh interest of a new-comer. You cannot take as much 
comfort in the lower class of people as you would like, 
on account of their habits. There is no denying that in 
the neighborhood of Mexico at least they are very dirty. 
They do not clean up even for their festivals. I saw 
them dancing at a public ball at the Theatre Hidalgo, 
w^hich, among other amusements, the municipality pro- 
vided for them free, on the national festival of the 5th 
of May. There were charcoal dealers and such persons, 
with their women, and they had not taken the pains to 


remove a single smudge of their working -day condi- 

Cuatitlan was the birth-place of the simple peon Juan 
Diego, who in 1531 saw the miraculous apparition of the 
Virgin of Guadalupe. He was passing the barren hill 
where her elaborate pilgrimage church now stands, and 
she gave him roses which had flowered where no flower 
had ever been seen before. A banner with the image 
of this miraculous Virgin was carried all through the wars 
of the Independence. Guadalupe is still one of the spots 
to be visited, and you buy such sacred knick-knacks there 
as at Lourdes or Einsiedlen, but the church is stripped of 
its treasures now, and the surroundings have a shabby 


At San Angel, Tlalpam, and other similar points in the 
vicinity of the capital, there was formerly an extensive 
villa life. It has curiously decayed, even while the secur- 
ity of living in such a way has increased. There are no 
fierce heats, however, to drive people to the country. It 
is always comfortable in town. No watering-places nor 
summer resorts in our sense of the word exist. People 
who go to their haciendas visit them more to look after 
their business interests than in need or love of country 
life. Bills are up in the grated windows of the long, 
low, one-storied villas at San Angel, and the fruits fall 
untasted in the orange and myrtle gardens. The vil- 
lagers endeavor to atone for this neglect of them by 
feasts of flowers, and little fairs, which last a week at 
a time. On these occasions, among other attractions, 
existing ordinances against gambling are set aside, and 
their small plazas are filled with games of hazard. 

The Viga Canal, as far as Santa Anita, is a livelier and 



154 OLD m:^xico and her lost provinces. 

more unique resort. Santa Anita is tlie St. Cloud or 
Bougival of Mexico. Thither go, especially on Sundays, 
lively persons to disport themselves on the water and 
pass a day of the picnic order, taking lunch with them, 
or depending on such cheap viands as the place offers. 
The wide yellow canal is more Venetian than French at 
first. A mouldering red villa or two on its banks, wuth 
private water-gates, might belong to the Brenta. Af- 
terward lines of willows and poplars are reflected in the 
water, and then it is French again. 

Flat-boats coming on, piled up with bales of hay and 
wood, echo each other peacefully from distance to dis- 
tance. Swift, small chalujpas (dug-outs) follow, managed 
by the Indian master in poses for a sculptor, while his 
wife — or it is as often an Indian woman alone — is en- 
sconced among flowers and vegetables, w^ith which it 
overflows. This is the region of the chinampas, the 
gardens from vv^hich the markets of Mexico are most 
liberally supplied. They are formed by the division of 
what was once a marsh, by narrow branch canals, into 
small oblong patches. The patches are so small that the 
owner passes around the borders in his canoe, and keeps 
all portions moist with water, which he throws out upon 
them with a calabash. By this care, and the rich charac- 
ter of the redeemed soil, luxuriant crops are produced. 

The houses of the village are generally of bamboo, and 
without windows, sufiScient light penetrating through the 
interstices. The first business of the participants in the 
Sunday festivities here is to provide themselves with large, 
thick wreaths of lovely poppies and blue and white corn- 
flowers, which are sold for the merest trifle. They wear 
these upon their heads, in their caperings, with a highly 
classic effect. A general frizzling sound is heard, where 
eatables, of which peppers form a large ingredient, are 


prepared on little charcoal furnaces without and primi- 
tive fire-places within. " Come in !" the busy venders 
cry ; " come in, senors, senoras, and senoritas, and be 
seated ! Aqui los ninos ! Here is the place for the chil- 
dren ! Here is the place where they are appreciated, and 
by no means considered a nuisance!" 

"Tamales calientitos ! dear little tamales, very nice 
and hot !" they cry. In the same caressing way a cab- 
man in want of a job will call ^oyx j^atroncito^ "dear little 
patron," though you may be as large as a grenadier. 

They decorate their little stands with turnips and rad- 
ishes cut into ingenious shapes of flowers, and with a 
profusion of little birds in wax, and the Mexican Goddess 
of Liberty astride of an eagle. A swarm of flat-boat men 
cluster at the edge of the canal, bidding for your patron- 
age. Dancing is going on in almost every court-yard; 
the ballad-singers strike up lazy refrains ; and in the Car- 
cel, in a dirty little plaza, by a fountain, a single prisoner 
monotonously rattles his wooden grating, and glares out 
at the gayety like a madman. ]^o self-respecting Ameri- 
can prisoner could be induced to stay in a place so easy 
to escape from. But there is no accounting for tastes. 


But are there no real chinampas, no gardens that actu- 
ally float, according to the tradition ? Was all that, then, 
a myth ? 

Not at all. The soil hereabouts is solidified now, an- 
chored down, as it were ; but it has in its time floated, 
and in that condition borne crops. Farther on whole 
expanses are found only kept in position by stakes, with 
four feet of water below, and yet strong enough to sus- 
tain grazing cattle. An expedition was organized, in 


which I was privileged to set off, under the hospitable 
guidance of the Director of the Drainage of the Yallej^, 
to witness these marvels in j)erson. We had a large 
row-boat, rowed bj five oarsmen ; and in our party was 
an amiable English traveller, who has written a book 
about Mexico,^ and described, among others, this very 

We started about seven o'clock in the morning from 
the garita of La Yiga, an old Spanish water-gate, at which 
toll is taken from the market boats. The current was 
against us. The canal of La Yiga, a stretch of about six- 
teen miles, is the outlet of Lake Xochimilco into Texcoco. 
Chalco and Xochimilco are practically the same lake, be- 
ing separated only by a narrow^ causeway of ancient date, 
which is open at the centre and spanned by a little bridge. 

There are numerous hamlets along the way, built like 
Santa Anita, and each with a few venerable palm-trees in 
its plaza. The Jefe Politico of one embraced our Director 
of the Desagiie and kissed his hand. At another a solid 
little bridge had lately been thrown across the canal, and 
we heard of a banquet that had been given on the occa- 
sion. The orator of the day had delivered a resounding 
address on human progress, and declared that he was 
proud to be a resident of a village which could accom- 
plish such a feat. We lunched at a fort -like hacienda 
at Ixtapalapa, the point where the canal issues from the 
lake, and there found horses awaiting to take us to the 
top of the Hill of the Star. Upon this eminence, accord- 
ing to Prescott, were rekindled the extinguished fires 
and the beautiful captive sacrificed at the end of each 
of the cycles of fifty years, wdien the Aztecs thought the 
existence of the world was to be terminated. 

* Brocklehurst's "Mexico To-daj'." John Murray: London, 1883. 


We found notliing on the summit but a few heavy 
foundation stones, possibly remains of a sacrificial altar. 
Our horses had to be walked actively about, to prevent 
their taking serious cold from the rapid evaporation. It 
is chiefly memories that are found on such places. I 
plucked there, hov/ever, to send in a letter, a dark -red 
common flower, and pleased myself with the fancy that 
it might have drawn its sanguinary hue from the ground 
so steeped in slaughter. 

Though at the entrance of the lake, no shining expanse 
of water was visible. The greater part of the surface, 
in fact, is covered with a singular growth of entwined 
roots and debris^ supporting a verdant meadow. Pas- 
sage through it is effected by canals and shifting natural 
channels, which change with the wind. 

Two of our men after a time got out and towed the 
boat. The ostensible terra firma sank under their weight 
like the undulations of "benders" in thin ice. Now and 
then one floundered and went in waist-deep, whereat the 
others laughed. The margins are kept in place along the 
permanent channels by pinning them down with long 

We fell in with wandering strips of growing verdure, 
called cintas (ribbons), and larger ones, hcmdoleros (ban- 
dits), drifting about at their own sweet will. Our host 
told us, though this he would not guarantee as of his own 
experience, that in the earlier times a garden of flowers 
and vegetables was now and then wrecked along-shore 
after a gale of wind, as if it had been a bark. Contra- 
bandists, robbers who occasionally beset the market-boats, 
and political refugees have sometimes found this a favor- 
able place of refuge, and escaped pursuit by diving under 
the illusive area and coming up elsewhere. 

We dined al fresco at Mas Arriba, a place nanied quite 


in the American style, literally Farther On. The margins 
were full of yellow water-lilies, and the clear spaces re- 
flected distant mountains. Evening drew on, and then 
night. The frogs and crickets waked up their lonesome 
refrain, and fire -flies twinkled brightly in the morass. 
A few drops of rain fell, which increased in time to a 


We reached the long causeway between the two lakes 
late at night, in pitch darkness and torrents of rain, and 
screened ourselves a while under the little bridge, which 
barely accommodated the boat. Here was Tlahuac, an an- 
cient island town or village, at the centre of the cause- 
way. Waiting was useless. We landed in the rain, bought 
candles at a wretched tienda kept by Indians as solemn 
as statues, and set out in search of a lodging. A mozo 
preceded us, like a great fire-bug, sheltering a burning 
candle under a straw mat as best he could, to aid us in 
keeping out of the deeper puddles. 

We were recommended to the Padre, as the only per- 
son capable of entertaining visitors of our distinction, and 
found him in an ancient Dominican convent looming up 
in the darkness. He received us with many apologies, 
gave us a good supper, manifested an interest in the late 
gossip of Mexico, and put us to sleep on the church car- 
pets on the fioor of a vast, bare room, provided with a 
few old religious pictures and bits of furniture. 

Any temporary discomforts of this night of adventure 
were amply atoned for by the beautiful bright morning 
of the next day. We found Tlahuac a kind of Venetian 
island, a Torcello, as it were, on which some population of 
New Zealanders might have put up their thatched huts. 
The church rising: in the centre had one of the usual shin- 


ing tiled domes, and was preceded by a court and arched 
gateway. Its outer walls were covered with a large pat- 
tern of quatre-foils in red and yellow. I do not recol- 
lect just such a design again till I came later to the 
old Spanish mission of San Juan Capistrano, in Southern 
California. The island has sunk, or rather the lake has 
risen, in course of time, and the bases of the columns in the 
church are some four feet below the level of the ground. 

Near by was the village school, and, as we got under 
way, we heard the shrill little voices of the children re- 
citing their spelling in concert. All the shock -headed 
adult residents, in their garments of white cotton, looked 
as stupid as possible ; but it is not always safe to judge 
by appearances. 

From here the view of the two great snow-clad vol- 
canoes is uninterrupted and glorious. We were told to 
feel with the oars at one place in the canal the pave- 
ments of a submerged Aztec city. Cortez mentions such 
a one in his letters. In 1855 the rumor of a new Pom- 
peii spread abroad, based upon the finding of a few sub- 
merged Aztec huts in Lake Chalco, but no remains of 
any real importance have ever come to light. 

On this day, in Lake Chalco, we took our mid-day meal 
at the base of Xico, a little island volcano now extinct. 
It is of solid granite, without so much as a blade of grass 
externally, and the ascent is smooth and difficult. The 
boatmen sometimes see "Will-o'-the-wisps" on its sum- 
mit, which, they say, are kindled by the witches. We 
climbed it, notwithstanding, and found a gently sloping 
crater, filled with maize -fields, which could easily have 
been approached from the other side. 


The water began to be charmingly clear, and the bot- 
tom was full of a red weed like coral. We ofathered 
ferns, lilies, the fragrant little white flower of St. John — 
flo7'' de San Jiian^ sold in large bunches in the market — 
and other flowers, yellow, purple, and vivid scarlet, of un- 
known names. 

The clouds still hung threateningly about, and gave us 
now and then a slight sprinkle of rain. But as we drew 
near to Chalco and the end of our two days' voyage they 
cleared away. 

The prospect from this point is the subject for a land- 
scape painting of the grand order. The town of Chalco, 
with an ancient and noble church edifice, supplies the 
element of human interest. In front is the blue water 
in spaces, with their reflection, and a wealth of marsh 
plants, arrow and lance heads, ferns, and flowers. In the 
distance is the great snow-clad mountains, upon which 
wreathing mists throw changing lights and shadows. 
Ixtacihuatl, the White Woman, though the lesser, I con- 
tinually find the more picturesque of the two, in its sharp 
and rugged outline. Popocatepetl, in the more perfect 
symmetry of its cone, is a little monotonous, like Orizaba. 

We came, by a short branch canal, to the station of La 
Compania, on the Morelos railway, and took the train 
back to towm. We w^ere just in time to hear of a dis- 
turbance near by by General Tiburcio Montiel, and his 
arrest by the Government forces. It was said that he 
had headed a communistic uprising of Indians for the 
recovery of their lands. He declared through the press 
afterward that he had but gathered a posse to aid him 
in the execution of some legal process. Quaint risings of 
a communistic sort, however, have not been uncommon. 
Demagogues have more than once told the simple-minded 
peons that the lands of the country were theirs — had been 


wrested from their ancestors bj the Spanish conquerors 
— and it was high time to get them back. An ingenious 
hacendado, waited upon by such a delegation, admitted 
their view, but met it with another. 

" Yes," said lie, " the Spaniards took your lands, it is 
true ; but before that you Aztecs took them from the 
Toltecs. Find me first, therefore, some Toltecs; I will 
yield my title only to them." 




My next journey was by lake across Texcoco to the 
old capital of that name. I had hoped to take El Nez- 
hualcoyotl, which lay in the mud by the Garita of San 
Lazaro, when I went to make preliminary inquiries. 
There would have been a certain fitness in approaching 
the ancient capital in a boat named after the sovereign 
who made it illustrious; but it was not its day for sailing. 

The Nezhiialcoyotl was clipper-built, as it were, a long, 
rusty, gondola-like scow, devoted exclusively to passenger 
traffic. We took instead a freight-boat of much larger 
and heavier build, La Ninfa Eiicantadora^ or " the En- 
chanting Xymph." She would have been called the Mary 
Ann or Betsy Jane elsewhere, but such is the difference 
in the tropical imagination. 

A cabin sheltered the passengers and some budgets of 
goods which were done up in the inevitable ^^^<^zf<?5, rush 
mats, and included two bags of silver. There were a 
couple of young women going to jpasear — take a little 
vacation — at Texcoco. " It will be triste, of course," 
they said, " like everything out of Mexico ; still, we are 
going to try it for a while." They offered a part of 
their lunch, as travelling companions were continually 
doing wherever I went, and the skipper offered us pulque. 
Two older women, in blue rebosas, sat like statues, hold- 


ing their parcels and an Indian baby in their laps, from 
one end of the long journey to the other. 

The canal of San Lazaro on this side extends about a 
league to the lake. It is very much less attractive than 
that of Chalco. Its terminus in the city is the point 
of a most animated and Yenetian-like market scene, but 
one earns his pleasure in dealing with this canal at the 
expense of many a bad odor. Six men put a sort of har- 
ness on themselves and dragged us along, plodding on 
the tow-path, as Russian peasants drag their boats in 
some of their rivers. A man on horseback with a tow- 
rope also assisted, on the other side. 

The water, shoal in the beginning, shoaled more as we 
went on, till we were aground on flats in the edge of the 
lake. The city sewage was aground with us. Still, the 
situation was relieved by the striking prospect. The teo- 
calli-like Penol, where there are warm baths, was close 
at hand. Sky and water were of an identical blue; the 
shallow expanse reflected the circuit of dark and purplish 
foot-hills and great snow-peaks beyond as perfectly as if 
it had been as deep as they were high. 

Our crew walked for an hour in the mud, pushing 
against long poles projected from the sides, before we 
could be said to be fairly afloat. Then they came 
aboard and poled the rest of the way. They walked up 
an inclined plane, carrying the poles over their heads, and 
came down, pushing, with them supported against their 
shoulders, in a bold and striking motion. It was eight 
o'clock when we set out, and four when we reached the 
mouth of the short branch canal which makes up to Tex- 
coco. The distance must be about thirty miles. A cross 
arose out of the lake half way over, and our polemen 
stopped at it and shouted three times, with startling ef- 
fect, '^Alaho al gran pode?' de Dios! Ave Maria pu- 


rissimaP'' — "Hail to the almighty power of God ! Hail, 
Mary the purest !" 

Unexpectant of anything of the sort, I hurried out 
from the cabin, taking it to be some defiance at enemies, 
or disturbance among ourselves. We met other packets 
like our own, loaded with people. A considerable part of 
the cargoes was the fine large red earthen jars and dishes 
we saw at Mexico, w^hich are made at Texcoco. The 
piled-up bales and pottery, the strange figures, and the 
flashing poles of one of these craft, coming on, make it 
a highly original and spirited subject. 

Then we fell in with one of the curiosities of the 
lake — disbelieved in by some — sw^arms of the mosca, 
a little water-fly, so thickly settled on the water that we 
took them for flats and reefs. They resemble mosquitoes, 
but neither sting nor even alight on the boat. They are 
taken in fine nets and carried to Mexico, as food for the 
birds; and they have eggs, which are sold in the market 
and made into tortillas, which are said to be very pal- 

The shores are encrusted with native alkali, which has 
its share in the production of the disagreeable odors. 
Peasants gather the crude product and load it upon don- 
keys, to carry to a salt and soda w-orks, and a manufactory 
of glass, situated at Texcoco. 

Was it in this same branch canal that Cortez launched 
his brigan tines for the destruction of the naval powder of 
the Aztecs? There is water in but a part of it now; and 
traces of substantial locks are found, where grass is grow- 
ing and cows feeding. 


I spent nearly a week at Texcoco assimilating the quiet 
interior life of the country. I dined at the Restaurante 




Universo, both cheaply and better as a rule than at Mex- 
ico, and found a chamber with the keeper of the princi- 
pal tienda, there being no inn. I even became some- 
thing of an expert in jndqiie. The true connoisseur takes 
it mitad y initad : half of agua 7niel newly from the 
maguey field, and half the stronger beverage of longer 
standing. I made the acquaintance of the Jefe Politico, 
a polite, youngish man, said to be a terror to evil-doers. 
He had made the roads safe. He had a way of shooting 
at brief notice, and transporting to Yucatan, or if he con- 
tented himself with a mere fine it was a sounding one. 
The jpidquerias must be closed at six o'clock, and other 
shops at nine. One day the Deputy returned from his 
seat in Congress, and was given a characteristic reception. 
A troop of twenty or so of his constituents mounted on 
horseback, and preceded the omnibus in which he was 
drawn, from the railway station back into the town, at 
the top of their speed, shouting and firing pistols. Crack- 
ers and pistols were fired also from the omnibus. 

I made the acquaintance also of the local druggist, an 
intelligent person, who had a collection of antiquities. 
He w^as of the pure Indian race, and professed himself 
proud of being an Indian, and proud of being a Texco- 
can. He had lately brought out a very strong distillation 
of jpidque^ a kind of patent medicine, and asked my ad- 
vice about introducing it in the United States. He evi- 
dently thought we were made of money, for I am sure 
we never should have been willing to pay so much a 

The place has now about six thousand people. Its 
churches are immense. It has a long, shabby plaza, with 
a market arcade on one side, and an Alameda, also in 
poor condition. The Jefe Politico might extend his pro- 
tection next to a few internal improvements. Hamlets 


cluster near together in a fertile area round about. I 
noted one day two peons soberly carrying on their shoul- 
ders, among the magueys, what appeared to be a dead 
body. It proved to be instead the saint of the village 
church, which they were quaintly conveying, as a loan, to 
one of the others, to assist in a festival of the morrow. 

In the hamlet of Santa Cruz the population are pot- 
ters. Each has a little round tower of a furnace attached 
to his house, works on his own account, and sets out 
the large, ruddy jars on his roof to dry. He could ac- 
quire a competence if persevering, but the moment he 
has a dollar ahead he stops work till it is spent. In other 
houses persons were seen at looms weaving blue cotton 
stuffs for apparel. 

Numbers of ancient carven stones occur, let into the 
church walls and pavement, and set up in the Alameda. 
Kemains of teocallis are also numerous, as they might 
well be in a place once the seat of the Augustinian age of 
Aztec culture. They are treated with no respect at all. 
They are worn down into mere knolls, and planted with 
crops. From the site of one now levelled a proprietor 
was said to have taken out a treasure. What with its 
age, the destruction of haciendas in the wars, and the 
practice of the Indians, still prevailing, of burying their 
money in the ground, there ought to be treasure-trove in 
Mexico, if anywhere. Certain it is that my host at the 
tienda, Senor Macedonia, had in his till some beautiful 
old Spanish coins, which he displayed to the gossips who 
came in the evening to sip beverages and play dominos. 

Among the gossips thus sociably tomando copas (taking 
cups) at the tienda there was one, a certain " Don San- 
tiago," who told me that he was pulling down, in his 
garden, the largest pyramid of the place, to sell the ma- 
terial for building purposes. This was of real interest. 


Going thither, his pyramid was found to be indeed of 
imposing size. It was laid up in regular courses of 
sun-dried brick, and there were vestiges of a facing and 
superposed pavements of cement, as at San Juan Teoti- 
huacan. There was present in the place with me an 
archaeologist — a newspaper archaeologist, I should call him. 
He termed himself an " expedition ;" he had an omnivor- 
ous taste for unearthing things, without knowledge of the 
language, or apparent acquaintance with any previous re- 
searches or theories; and his discoveries were intended 
principally to redound to the fame of a journal which 
had sent him out. Between us we brought to light a sec- 
tion of a great bass-relief which now occupies a place in 
the National Museum at Mexico. It was probably seven 
feet in its longest dimension and five in the other, and 
must have been a quarter or so of the whole work. It 
contained a calendar circle, no doubt establishing the 
date, and part of the figure of a warrior in elaborate re- 
galia, possibly that of old Nezhualcoyotl himself. The 
archaeologist, whom perhaps I unfairly disparage for the 
auspices under which he appeared, set to work with a 
will, and soon had half a dozen natives taking the sur- 
face off the rest of the soil in the vicinity, for the re- 
maining fragments, but without success. It was the 
fierce practice of the Spaniards to break the religious 
emblems of the conquered pagans, to prevent them, as 
far as possible, from returning to their idolatrous prac- 
tices, and most likely they rolled down one fragment of 
the great stone one w^ay, and another another, to separate 
them as widely as possible ; so that they will be found 
on different sides of the pyramid. All day long it was 
" Don Santiago !" here, and " Don Santiago !" there, as 
the excavators plied their labors ; while I spent some part 
of it, shaded by an impromptu awning of mats, noting 



down in a drawing the peculiarities of the "find" we 
had made. I do not profess myself an archaeologist, 
except from the picturesque point of view. It is my 
private surmise that a great deal of good investigation is 
lavished upon these matters which had much better be 

THE "find." 

spent upon the present ; but liere was a case in which the 
sentiment of the picturesque was amply gratified. There 
was a genuine pleasure in being one of the first to salute 
this interesting fragment of antiquity after its long sleep, 
to tenderly brush the dirt from it and trace its enigmatic 


Thei'e is a decided resemblance, to this day, in looks 
and habits, between the Mexican peon and the China- 
man. Writers on the subject have generally represented 



America as originally peopled from Asia, the Asiatics 
having crossed over, perhaps, at Behring's Straits, and 
made tlieir way south. One Mexican writer stoutly 
maintains that Mexico was the cradle of the race, and 
the migration was in the opposite sense. This accords, 
at any rate, with Buckle's general theorj^, that the thickly 
settled portions of the earth were at first those where 
climate and a natural food-supply made the maintenance 
of life easy. In these places, too, civilization began. 
The warm and fertile area of Central America, there- 
fore, would have teemed with humanity before the waste 
North was peopled. There may have been sculptured 
cities, one upon another, long before even Uxmal and 
Palenque, the origin of which was lost in obscurity to 
the Aztecs. 

However this may be, the Aztecs themselves, whether 
descendants of a race expatriated from the South and 
become rugged in the North, or having crossed over from 
Asia, came down from the colder regions, like the Goths 
and Yandals upon Italy. The tradition on this point is 
clear. One day two leading personages, Huitziton and 
Tecpultzin, in their far-off northern regions, wherever 
they were, heard a small bird singing in the branches 
ti-hici! ti-hid ! — let us go! They listened intently and 
took counsel together. " This is really very singular," 
we may suppose Huitziton saying, wliile Tecpultzin sage- 
ly laid a finger beside his nose and listened again. One 
would like a historic picture by some competent humorist 
of these two simple worthies deciding the fate of their 
nation. Ti-htd ! ti-hui I piped the little songster inex- 
orably, and that there seemed nothing for it but that the 
Aztec people should move southward, which they pro- 
ceeded to do. 

They overwhelmed the civilized Toltec capital at Tula 


in their progress. They had a farther oracle saying that 
they were to stop when they should arrive where an 
eagle was sitting on a nopal plant ; and this they found 
at Mexico, on tlie very spot which now is the plaza of 
San Domingo. The whole district became filled in time 
with small kings and princes tributary to the Monte- 
zumas. The most refined and peaceable type of them 
all arose at Texcoco. 

In the Cerro of Texcocingo, some ten or twelve miles 
back of the town, remain extensive vestiges of an archi- 
tectural magnificence which show that the accounts of 
the historians are not made of whole cloth. We had a 
trooper appointed us, as an escort and guide, by the Jefe 
Politico, and rode out to visit them. 

Ascending the hill, of perhaps two thousand feet in 
height, overgrown with hardy nopal and maguey, you 
come to excellent flights of steps cut in the solid rock, 
giving access to aqueducts, bathing tanks, cisterns, and 
caverns, heavily sculptured within and witliout, which are 
remains of temples and palaces. 

Our trooper had little ambition in these matters, and 
after showing ns a part declared that there was no more, 
and went comfortably to sleep. It was only by climbing 
alone to the top that I found the principal display. Here 
tlie philosophic Nezhnalcoyotl, in his retirement, hung in 
the air, above the wide prospect of his capital, the lake, 
and his rival of Mexico. And here, in the deserted moun- 
tain, with a guide who had gone fast asleep below, his 
ghost might be half expected to be met witli wandering 
in the still sunshine, but unfortunately it was not. He 
wrote poems of a pensive cast. He reflected even in his 
time as to whether life is worth living, and his general 
theme was the vanity of all things mortal. 

"Where is Chalchintmet, the Chicameca ?" he asks. 


" Mitl, the venerator of the gods ; Tolpiltzin, last of 
the Toltecs; and the beautiful Xinlitzal — where are 
thej ?" 

These no doubt once famous personages can be the 
better spared now, on account of their unpronounceable 
names, but to the writer they represented something very 
tangible and solid. 

" Very brief is the realm of flowers," he continues, 
"and brief is human life. . . . Our careers are like the 
streams, which but run on to excavate their own graves 
the more surely. . . . Let us look, then, to the immor- 
tal life. . . . The stars that now so puzzle us are but the 
lamps that light the palaces of the heavens." 

Such, if he be properly presented by Spanish adapters, 
were the sentiments of this early monarch. Truly the 
latent capacities even of the natural man are not so far 
below the surface ; and it may be that no agency will 
be found so potent to awaken them with a rush as the 
modern facility in railway transportation. 


On the return we visited a country residence, combined 
with large mills for making paper and grinding grain. 
It was called the Molino del Flores, and belonged to the 
wealthy Cervantes family of Mexico. One of this Cer- 
vantes family was the subject, in 1872, of a celebrated 
exploit by the jylagiarios, or kidnappers. He was seized 
while coming out of the theatre at night, a cloak was 
thrown over his head, and he was bundled into a cab. 
He was buried a long time under the floor of a house, just 
enough food being given him to sustain life. The plagi- 
arios did not secure the large ransom they demanded, 
after all, but were finally apprehended, and shot — three 

TO OLD TEXroVO. 173 

of them — against the wall of the house, the Callejon Za- 
cate, 1^0. 8, where they had detained their victina. 

The Molino del Flores was not only charming in itself, 
but may serve as a text for mentioning the very different 
sentiment thrown around anything in the shape of a man- 
ufactory from that prevailing with us. Mills, residence, 
granaries, and chapel, terraced up into a steep hill -side 
from a little entrance court, are constructed upon the 
same motifs and form a single establishment. It is set in 
a striking little gorge. The water-power, after turning 
the mills, is utilized for lovely gardens, in which there 
are a hundred fantastic jets and surprises. There is an 
out-of-door bathing tank, for instan<^e, at the end of a se- 
cluded walk, screened by shrubbery. The disrobing seat 
is managed in a small cave in the cliff, and the shower, 
on pulling a ring, falls from the summit, forty feet above. 
It is a place that might have served for such an adven- 
ture as that of Susannah and the Elders. 

In the novel of " Maria," one of the most charming of 
stories, with which I first made acquaintance in Mexico, 
thouo'h its scene is laid amono^ similar customs in South 
America, the heroine is represented as preparing the bath 
for the hero in such a tank by scattering fresh roses into 
it with her own fair hands. 

A rustic bridge, on which La Sonnambula might have 
walked, is thrown across the cataract to a quaintly fres- 
coed, rock-cut mortuary chapel, where, among others, the 
last titled ancestor of the house lies buried. He had ten 
distinct surnames — was Marques de Flores, a General of 
Brigade, signer of the Declaration of Independance, Cap- 
tain in Iturbide^s Guard, Cavalier of the Order of Gua- 
dalupe, Kegidor, Governor, Notahile under Maximilian, 
and more ; from which it will be seen that the pomp of 
the hidal2:os well survived in Mexico. 


The same caressing way of looking at industrial estab- 
lishments here noticed is Tuiiversal, and is, in part, no 
doubt, due to their rarity and a thorough appreciation of 
their usefulness. I recollect everywhere the sugar haci- 
endas, " beneficiating" haciendas, or ore-reducing works, 
and cotton-mills treated in similar fashion. 

One voyage across Lake Texcoco was quite sufficient 
of its kind, and I returned by diligencia to the junction 
point of the since completed railway, and thence by rail 
to the capital. The puUing-gear of our dih'gencia was a 
thing of shreds and patches. A boy ran beside the mules 
all the way to mend the broken ropes and supplement, 
with whistling and flapping, the exertions of the driver. 
The houses in the villages are of unwhitewashed adobe, 
with palings of organ-cactus. It was like riding through 
a brick-yard. Fine irrigating canals, fed from the moun- 
tains, frequently crossed our course, indicating the sub- 
stantial scale on which agricultural works are conducted. 
More than one monumental ruined hacienda, too, showed 
that they liad formerly been on even a more elaborate 
scale than now. 





I DO not know whether I advise everybody to climb 
Popocatepetl. There it is always on the horizon, the 
highest mountain in North America, and one of the few 
highest in the world — a standing inducement to the ad- 
venturous. Few accept it, however, though among those 
who have done so are said to be ladies. I should some- 
what doubt this, but, even if so, there seem to be some 
features of this ascent which make it uncertain whether 
the effort "pays" quite as well as Alpine mountaineering. 

At any rate, if one will go, let him have all the par- 
ticulars and the necessary outfit in advance, at the capital 
itself. Little aid or comfort will be found elsewhere on 
his way. The proper preliminary for ascending Popo- 
catepetl is to find some one who has been there and 
knows all about it, and to bear in mind besides the few 
following points, for his informant will be sure to have 
forgotten them. 

The feet are to be kept dry and warm, for there are 
hours of climbing in wet snow. This is, perhaps, best 
accomplished by superposed pairs of stout woollen stock- 
ings. The guides usually recommend strips of coarse 
cotton cloth, to be bound around in Italian con tad i no 
fashion ; but this is a delusion and a snare, and they 
mean it to be so. They consider, very justly, that if the 


traveller can be made so imcomfortable as to quit the 
ascent before it is half accomplished they shall collect 
the price agreed upon and be saved a great part of their 

There should be shoes provided with some arrange- 
ment of spikes in the soles, against the painful slipping 
backward. There should be a supply of food and warm 
covering for camping-out, since absolutely nothing is to 
be had, and the temperature is very cold at the shelter 
of Tlamaca, where probably two nights will have to be 

I accomplished the ascent with two companions. We 
had in the beginning such assurances of special assistance 
that it seemed about to be robbed of all its terrors. The 
volcano is regularly owned, and worked as a sulj^hur 
mine, by General Sanchez Ochoa, Governor of the Mili- 
tary School. We were put in charge of one of his super- 
intendents, who was to see that we had every conven- 
ience, and that the malacate^ or windlass, was put in 
order for us to descend into the crater. I surmise that 
this particular superintendent did not greatly care to en- 
counter the needed hardships on his own account, for 
certain it is that in the sequel we were left short of many 
elementary necessities, and there was no inalacate for the 
descent, nor any reference to it. 

You arrive at Amecameca, forty miles from Mexico, 
by train. Everybody should go there. It is one of the 
loveliest of places, and has inns for the accommodation 
of visitors. Amecameca will one day be frequented from 
many climes, if I am not much mistaken. It has features 
like Interlaken. Cool airs are wafted down to it from 
the mountains, and its site resembles an Alpiive vale. 
There arc points of view in the vicinity whence a sharp 
minor peak separates itself from the main snow mass of 


Popocatepetl, like the Silberliorn from the Jnngfran, at 
Interlaken. The streets are clean, and the houses almost 
all neatly lime-washed in white or colors. The market- 
place is a scene for an opera — a long arcade, full of bright 
lignres ; behind this is a group of churches and court- 
yards; behind these the vast snow mountains, as at Chal- 
co, but nearer. A little hill at the left, across a strip of 
maize-iields, is called the Sacro Monte, and has a sacred 
chapel of some kind. I climbed thither while the negoti- 
ations for horses and guides were in their first tedious 
stage, and found a quaint Christ in the chapel, and a most 
engaging view from its terrace. 


AYe set off with a captain, or chief guide, who called 
himself Domingo Tenario ; a peon guide, Marcellino Car- 
doba, who had worked for three years at sulphur-mining 
in the volcano. He also acted as muleteer. We had four 
horses and a mule — the wdiole for eight dollars a day. 
Domingo Tenario would also ascend the mountain for a 
dollar more. We were to be gone three days, the greater 
part of which the expedition consumes. 

The first part of the way wound among softly undulat- 
ing slopes, yellow with barley, out of which projected 
here and there an ancient pyramid, planted with a crop 
also. By the roadside grew charming white thistles, 
tall blue lupines, and columbines. We crossed arroijos, 
brooks, and harrancas, gorges. The aspect changed to 
that of an Alpine pasture. There were bunch grass, ten- 
der flowering mosses, and cattle feeding. An eccentric 
dog, who was attached, it seemed, to one of the horses, 
and had the ambition to ascend the monntain also, instead 
of saving his strength for it, here ran up and down and 



bit at the heels of tlie herds in the most wasteful man- 
ner. It seems a small detail of an enterprise of pith and 
moment to mention, bnt ""Perro," as we called him, for 
want of acquaintance with his name, if he had one, con- 
trived a score of sage and amusing devices to attract an 
attention to himself beyond his deserts. The horses 
were frescoed on the flanks with a kind of Eastlake dec- 
oration made np of the brands of successive owners. 

The English landed proprietor in our small party occu- 
pied himself with collecting specimens, and soon had a 
kind of geological and botanical pudding in his satchel. 
The American engineer took observations with his ba- 
rometer and thermometer. Crosses are set up at intervals 
along the way. These indicate places where a death by 
violence has occurred, but not always a death by the hand 
of man. Did the custom prevail of setting up a cross 
in New York, for instance, wherever a violent death had 
occurred, we too should have a liberal share of these 

We entered the deep, solemn pine-woods ; the night 
came on, and a sharp cold seemed to penetrate to the 
marrow. Buildings appeared in the gloom, with red 
flames dancing merrily through the windows. Aha! the 
rancho of Tlamaca, with hospitable fires made up, no 
doubt, expressly for our reception ! 

What a disappointment! The buildings proved to be 
but some shelters of rough boards, with plentiful inter- 
stices, and not a whole pane of glass. The cabin devoted 
to the uses of the superintendent contained but a single 
cot. The dancing flames were those from the process of 
smelting the crude sulphur, which is done in brick fur- 
naces in the principal structure. Two Indian boys stirred 
the fires, and coughed in a distressing way all night long. 
We threw ourselves down to sleep among the sulphur- 


sacks. One was choked bj the fumes, if near the fur- 
naces, and penetrated by the drauglits through crevice 
and broken window-pane, if remote. Tlamaca is itself 
12,500 feet above the sea, and its thermometer ranges 
about 40° Fahrenheit. Without other covering than a 
lio^ht rubber overcoat — for I had not been instructed to 
bring other — it was impossible to sleep. I went out and 
paced the yard, sentry fashion, at three o'clock in the 
morning, as the only resource for keeping the blood in 
circulation. It was moonlight, and I had the partial com- 
pensation of studying the volcano, bathed in a lovely 
silver radiance. 

Mountains are rather given to making their poorest 
possible figure. Here we are, at this point, already 12,500 
feet above the sea, and this is to be subtracted from the 
total. Shall we ever meet with a good, honest m.ountain 
rising its whole 19,673 feet at once, without these shufiling 
evasions ? 1 fear not. They are only to be found in the 
designs of tyro pictorial art. 

I say 19,673 feet, because so much General Ochoa in- 
sists that Popocatepetl is, by a late measurement with the 
barometer of Gay-Lussac. He even estimates 1700 feet 
more for the upper rim of the crater, which has never 
been scaled. 1 do not know that this has ever passed 
into any ofScial form, but I had it from his own lips. 
The latest Mexican atlas makes it but 5400 metres, or 
17,884 feet, which coincides with the measurement of 
Humboldt. I much prefer to rally to General Ochoa, 
for my part, and to believe that I have climbed a moun- 
tain of 21,373 feet, instead of one of a mere 17,884. 

The barometer of our own expedition, unfortunately, 
stopped at 17,000 feet, the limit for which it was set — 
a limit which barometers are not often called upon to 



We left the Kanclio, at six in tlie morning, on horse- 
back, and rode three hours toilsomely over rocks of 
basalt, and black sand. The poor animals suffered pain- 
fully, but we needed all our own strength for the later 
work, and could not spare them. They were left at a 
point called Las Cruces, where a cross tops a ledge of 
black, jaggedly- projecting volcanic rock. The lines of 
composition in this part of the ascent were noble and 
magnificent, the contrasts startling. Across the vast, 
black undulations, on which our shadows fell purple- 
black, appeared and disappeared in turn the rich red cas- 
tellated Pico del Fraile, and the dazzling white breadths 
of the greater mountain engaging our efforts. 

Backward from Las Cruces lay a dizzy view of the 
world below. Across was the height of Ixtacihuatl, the 
White Woman, keeping us company in our ascent. The 
valley of Mexico could be seen in one direction, the val- 
ley of Puebla, and even the peak of Orizaba, 150 miles 
away, in the other. Against the mysterious vastness 
stood the figures of our men and horses on the ledge of 
volcanic rock, as if in trackless space. 

It was here that "Perro" charged down the slope after 
crows, which tantalized him and drifted lazily out of his 
reach, and so wasted his forces that he was obliged to 
abandon the expedition. Las Cruces was 14,150 feet up. 
The climb now began on foot, in a soft black sand. One 
of the leading difficulties of the climb is said to arise 
from the exceeding thinness of the air, which makes 
breathing difficult. I cannot say that I discriminated be- 
tween this and the shortness of breath due to the natural 


Isolated pinnacles of snow stood np like monuments 
in the black sand, as precursors of the permanent snow- 
line. The cool snow-line was a luxury for the first few 
moments. AYe sat down -and lunched by it, and from 
there took our last views backward. Cumulus clouds 
presently filled up the valley with a symmetrical arrange- 
ment like pavement. Such bits as appeared through fur- 
tive openings recalled the charming lines of Holmes's, in 
which a spirit, "homesick in heaven," looks back on the 
earth it has left : 

" To catch perchance some flashing glimpse of green, 
Or breathe some wild-wood fragrance, wafted through 
The opening gates of pearl." 

Up to this point — a little higher, let us say — the effort 
is rewarded. A view of " the kingdoms of the world and 
the glory thereof" has been had which could not be got 
elsewhere. But above this it has little more reward than 
that of being able to boast of it to your friends. A few 
steps in the snow, and imperfectly protected feet were 
sodden, numb with cold, and not to be dried again till the 
final descent. There was a painful slipping and falling 
in the snow, and blood - marks were left by ungloved 
hands. The grade is excessive, the top invisible. Who 
can estimate when he shall attain it ? The prospect con- 
sists of jagged snow-pinnacles without cessation, an end- 
less staircase of them reaching up into the sky. Some- 
times, in the sun, all the pinnacles glitter; again, thick 
fogs, like a gray smoke, gather round. There is no more 
casting yourself down now in warm scorias and sand. If 
you sit you are chilled. Yet rest you must continually. 
Every step is a calculation and an achievement. You 
calculate that you will allow yourself a rest after ten, 
after twenty more. The snow is not dangerous ; there 


are no crevasses to fall into, as in the Alps ; it is only 
monotonous and fatiguing. I seem to have gone on for 
an hour after farther endurance was intolerable. The 
guides encourage you — when- they find that you really 
mean to go up — with the adjuration, ^'Foeo d j^oco^^ (lit- 
tle by little); so that we paraphrased our mountain as 
" Poco-a-poco-catepetl." 

Finally, with sighs and groans of labored effort, instead 
of the lightness with which one might be expected to sa- 
lute a point of so extreme high heaven, we staggered over 
the edsre of the crater at about two o'clock in the after- 
noon. I had doubted at one time wliether the English 
landed proprietor woijld be able to reach it. He had 
grown purple in the face. Perhaps I had even hoped 
that he might need a friendly arm to assist him down 
again on tlie instant ; but he said, with the true British 

" Oh, hless you, I am going to the top, you know." 

And so he did. 


It was a supreme moment. One seemed very near to 
eternity. It seemed easy to topple through the ice mina- 
rets guarding the brink, and down into the terrific chasm. 

There is no comfort at the top when reached. It is 
frigidly cold. None of the expected heat comes up from 
the interior. An elemental war rages around, and it is 
no place for human beings. There is a kind of fearful 
exaltation. A slope of black sand descends some fifty 
feet to an inner edge, broken by rocks of porphyry and 
flint, which the imagination tortures into fantastic shapes. 
Hence a sheer precipice drops two thousand feet, a vast 
ellipse in plan. There was snow in the bottom of the 
crater. Jets of steam spouted from ten sulfataras, or 


sources, from which the native sulphur is extracted. The 
hands who work there are said to live in the shelter of 
caves, and remain for a month at a time without exit. 
They are lowered down by windlass, on a primitive con- 
trivance they call a caballo de minas — horse of the mines. 
The sulphur is hoisted in bags and slid down a long 
groove in the snow to the neighborhood of the rancho. 
It takes the palm in purity over all sulphurs in the 
world. A company has been formed, it is said, for the 
purpose of working the deposits more effectually and 
utilizing the steam-power in the bottom for improved 
hoisting machinery. 

The men were on strike at the time, as it happened, 
and the windlass was not in place, and was not adjusted. 
If it had been, and we had descended, we might have 
found the warmth for which we were well-nigh perish- 
ing. Snow began to drive from the heavy cloud-banks. 
When it snows the crater within is darkened, roarings 
are said to be heard, and strange -colored globules and 
flames play above the sulfataras. 

"What if there should be an eruption?" suggested 
the alarmist of the party, as we began to beat our retreat 
from the untenable position. 

" There has not been an eruption for at least seven 
thousand years," said the scientific member, with con- 
tempt. "A certain kind of lignite in the bottom, re- 
quiring that length of time to form, establishes it." 

"So much the more reason, then," said tlie alarmist: 
" it is high time there was another." 

With that we slipped and floundered down the snow- 
mountain with the same celerity with which V^esuvius is 
descended. We crossed again the black volcanic fields, 
mounted our horses, and spent once more the night at 
Tlamaca, having learned by experience how to make it 


slightly more comfortable than the otlier. The next day 
we rode back to Amecameca. 

AYhen Seiior Llandesio, Professor of the Fine Arts at 
Mexico, made this ascent, as he did in 1866, he says that 
he found two attempts necessary before he succeeded. I 
have the pamphlet in which he describes it. " The guide 
and peon whispered together continually," he says, " which 
made me tliink they were going to play ns some trick." 

Sure enough, they did. After a good way up they 
represented that it was perilous, impossible, to go farther. 
He descended, and had taken his seat in the diligencia to 
return to Mexico, when he met another party, with more 
honest guides, and, turning back with them, this time 
succeeded. He describes a young man so fatigued on 
the mountain that he desired, with tears in his eyes, to 
be left to die. Another succumbed owing to the singu- 
lar cause, that he had fancied that ardent spirits would 
have no effect in the peculiarly attenuated atmosphere, 
and liad emptied nearly a whole bottle of brandy. 

Senor Llandesio was told by the Indians that they be- 
lieved in a genius of the mountain, whom they called 
Cuantelpostle. He was a queer little man, who dwelt 
about the Pico del Fraile, helped the workmen at their 
labors when in a good humor, and embarrassed them as 
much as possible when in a bad. They said, also, that 
presents were offered by some to propitiate the volcano, 
for the purpose of obtaining rain, and the like. These 
were buried in the sand, and the places marked by a flat 
stone. This practice may account for some of the discov- 
eries of Charnay, who unearthed about the foot of the 
mountain much interesting pottery. 





When I saw Amecameca again it was to pass it on board 
a gala train going down to celebrate the completion of 
the Morelos railway to Cnautla, in Tierra Caliente. The 
Morelos railway is a native Mexican work. It was built 
under the auspices of Dellin Sanchez, a son-in-law of Pres- 
ident Juarez, was rushed forward with great expedition, 
in order to secure valuable premiums, added to the regu- 
lar subsidy by Government, and there was much defective 
work in its construction. It is laid to the narrow gauge, 
and projected ultimately to reach Acapulco, but this lat- 
ter need hardly be looked for in any predicable time. At 
present it reaches about seventy-five miles — to Cuautla- 
Morelos, capital of the state of Morelos. 

All official and distinguished Mexico was aboard that 
day — the President, the justices of the Supreme Court, 
generals, senators, litterateurs, and, greatest of all, Porfi- 
rio Diaz. " Porfirio " wore a felt hat with a tall top, and 
his manner with his friends was easy and unpretentious. 
Had the accident of a week later happened that day in- 
stead, the Pepublic of Mexico would have needed to be 
reconstructed from the bottom upward. 

A locomotive eipploradora, a look-out engine, went on 
ahead of us to see that all was safe. Every little place 
had its music and firino- of crackers, and the local detach- 




ment of Rurales reined up at the station. At Aineca- 
meea tliere were as many as iifty of the latter, with drawn 
swords, all on white horses, which the firing made plunge 
with great spirit. At Ozumba was a battalion of mounted 
riflemen, under command of a handsome young officer in 
an eye-glass, who might have come fresh from the mili- 
tary school of Saint Cyr. The Indian populations, who 
could never have seen the locomotive before, maintained 
nevertheless, as their way is, a certain stoicism. There 
were no wild manifestations of surprise, no shouts ; they 
even fired off their crackers with a serious air. 

The line is a congeries of curves without end, to over- 
conie the three-quarters of a mile grade perpendicular 
from Amecameca to Cnautla. Cuautla has seven thou- 
sand people. For the ten years, up to this time, there 
had not been even diligence communication with it, and 
the railway was an event indeed. The enterprise was car- 
ried through chiefly by the exertions of a Senor Mendoza 
Cortina, who has great sugar estates in the neighborhood. 

The streets were decorated with triumphal arches, and 
borders of tall banana-plants. They were shabby, and 
the place more squalid than is the rule in the temperate 
climates above. The Indians had an apathetic look. 
Few young and interesting faces were seen among them, 
but an extraordinary number of hags. I found in use 
some very pretty pottery, which I was told was made at 
Cuernavaca, forty miles awa3\ Simple bits of stone and 
shell were impasted in the common earthenware with an 
effect like that of old Roman mosaic. There was a dis- 
tinctly Indian Christ in the parish church. In the plaza in 
front stands a great tree, somehow connected with a nocTie 
triste of the patriot Morelos. Like Cortez at Mexico, he 
was forced to retreat one night in 1812, after a gallant 
resistance of sixty-two days to a siege by the Spaniards. 



The extremely civilized company pouring down to this 
shabby little place had a grand banquet in an old con- 
vent now adapted to the uses of a railway station, and 
plentiful speech-making afterward. There were a num- 
ber of merry young journalists of the party, and they 
comported themselves as merry young journalists are 
apt to. They rapped on the table and called " otro !" 
"otro!" — another! — with pretended enthusiasm, even 
after the dullest speeches. It seemed typical of some- 
thing curiously illogical in the Mexican mind that in fes- 
toons about the banqueting hall were set impartially the 
names of the presidents and other great men of the past, 
from Iturbide down to Manuel Gonzales. Itnrbide ad- 
joined Bravo and Guerrero, by whom he was shot as a 
usurper and enemy of the public peace ; and Lerdo Por- 
firio Diaz, by whom he was ousted as traitor and tyrant. 
In the same way these personages, alternately one anoth- 
er's Csesars and Brutuses, are honored impartially in the 
series of portraits in the long gallery of the National 

There was naturally prominent here the portrait of the 
Padre Morelos, with the usual handkerchief around his 
head, and bold air of bandit chief. It is curious that 
priests should have taken such a share in the early in- 
surrection. They recall those warrior ecclesiastics of the 
Middle Ages, who used to put on quite as often the secu- 
lar as the spiritual armor. Probably the oppressions of 
the Spaniards were often too intolerable even for ecclesi- 
astical endurance. Morelos, strangely enough, when the 
revolt broke out, was curate under Hidalgo at Yalladolid, 
in Michoacan, and followed him to the field. He came, 


in his tarn, to be generalissimo of the Mexican forces, 
and to have the name of Yalladolid changed to Morelia 
in liis honor. He had undoubtedly the military gift. 
His defence of Cuautla is considered one of the most 
glorious deeds of Mexican history. It was the third in 
the trio of priests, Matanaoras, his intimate and lieuten- 
ant, who broke the siege with a hundred horse and aided 
his retreat when it finally became necessary. 

Matamoras in due course w^as taken and shot, at Yalla- 
dolid, by no other than Iturbide, the future liberator. 
Iturbide, then in the Spanish forces, " had signalized 
himself," to quote our history again, "by his repeated 
victories over the insurgents, and the excessive cruelty 
of which he made use on frequent occasions." He routed 
Matamoras at Puruapan, took him prisoner, and put him 
to death, as has been said. To repay this, Morelos butch- 
ered two hundred Spanish prisoners in cold blood. So 
the strife of incarnate cruelty went on. Morelos himself 
was made prisoner by an act of treachery, and shot, after 
the customary fate of Mexican leaders, at San Cristobal 
Ecatapec, at four o'clock in the afternoon of the 21st of 
December, 1815. 

Iturbide's account, in his minutes, of the insurgent 
chiefs wdiom he was so active in exterminating is very 
far from flattering. . And here they are all apotheosized 
together. Yerily it seems as if some high court of in- 
quiry and review should be constituted for apportioning 
out a little the relative merits and defects of the past. The 
Mexican national anthem, a stirring and martial air, in- 
vokes among other things the sacred memory of Iturbide. 
But if Iturbide really deserved to be shot on setting foot 
on shore after his banishment, it seems much as if Amer- 
icans should invoke the sacred name of Benedict Arnold. 
Arnold, too, rendered excellent services to his country. 


Nobody was a braver or better soldier than he before he 
attempted to betray it to the British. 

Well, I suppose the Mexicans understand it, but I don't. 
Are they content with such a mixed ideal of good ? Can 
a person have been such a patriot at one time that no 
subsequent crimes can weigh against him ? One very 
simple lesson from it all would seem to be a less impa- 
tience with the ruling powers, on the one hand, and much 
less haste with powder and shot, on the other. 


I stayed a couple of days at Cuautla, to visit the sugar 
haciendas. The sugar product is large, and the district 
one of the most convenient sources of supply for central 
Mexico. A week afterward the newly inaugurated road 
was the scene of an accident unequalled, I think, in the 
annals of railway horrors. Five hundred lives were lost, 
in a little barranca, an insecure bridge over which had 
been washed out by the rain. A regiment in garrison at 
Cuautla was ordered to Mexico, and started in a train of 
open "flat" cars, there not having been passenger cars suf- 
ficient for the purpose. On other flat cars was a freight 
of barrels of aguardiente. Tiie start was made in the af- 
ternoon. There was delay on the track. The shower 
came on, the night fell, and the men, pelted by the storm, 
without protection, broke open the aguardiente, and drank 
their fill. Some say that the engineer reported the road 
unsafe, but was forced by an exasperated officer to go on 
with a pistol at his head. They came to the broken 
bridge, and the train went through. Tlie soldiers who 
were not mangled and incapacitated outright — drunk, and 
crazed with excitement — stabbed and shot one another. 
The barrels of aguardiente burst and took fire; the car- 


tridges in the belts exploded ; the swollen torrent claimed 
its own ; and the fury of a tropical storm, in a night as 
black as Erebus, beat down npon the writhing mass of 

It was at this price that the extra subventions for 
speedy completion of the work were earned. A white- 
washing report was made afterward, I believe, but the 
Government caused the road to be put in order before 
it was again opened ; and the case may serve as a needed 
lesson to all railway builders in Mexico. 





The impressions of the first journey upward from the 
coast are too vague to satisfy, yet it is better to push on 
to the capital and not take off the edge of the novelty 
by dallying on the way. The intervening places are 
returned to afterward. 

How different the feelino; now ! The thino;s that had 
seemed so formidable are harmless enough. You take 
now with gusto tlie imlciue^ handed up at Apam. You 
understand the motley figures, the interiors, the flavors 
of the strange fruits and cakes, the proper expressions to 
use, and prices to pay. The helpless feeling of standing 
in need of continual directions is got rid of, and travel 
has become a matter of confidence and pleasure. Our 
Mexicans of the lower class are not over- quick in the 
matter of directions, to tell the truth. I recollect, as an 
example, asking a small shop-keeper, one day, the way 
to a neighboring street. 

"There it is," he said; "but" (insisting, in a flustered 
way, on being puzzled by my accent, though he had com- 
prehended what I meant) "n6> hablamos Americano aquV 
— " We don't speak American here." 

I found a lodging at a tienda at San Juan Teotihuacan, 
the ancient city of the dead. The owner had before en- 
tertained Americans. He had a dog to which he had 


given, in pleasant recollection of one of them, as he 
said, the remarkable name of " Lovis," which afterward 
proved to be "Lewis." Adjoining was a barracks of 
Rurales. whose bntrles sounded a cheerful reveille in the 
morning. The central plaza is perhaps three miles from 
the station. On the way you cross a handsome stone 
bridge built by Maximilian. The river San Juan had 
vanished from under it and left a mere gulch, as is the 
way with most of the streams in the dry season. 

The inliabitants have their houses, gardens, and all, 
often above the cement floors left by the extinct race, 
and the edges of these floors crop out beside the road, 
worn down through them. Xobody has framed a satis- 
factory theory of the place, but it is supposed to have 
been a great pantheon, or burial-place, for the dead of 
importance. Maximilian encouraged excavations, and a 
great Egyptian -looking head, unearthed in his time, is 
seen. Charnay dug there later, and so did my friend of 
the newspaper expedition. Probably a commission ought 
to be issued by the Government for tunnelling, without 
impairing their form, the two pyramids, to ascertain if 
there be not something of importance wdthin. It is at 
present both conservative and apathetic in such matters. 
The larger pyramid, that of the Sun, has an excellent zig- 
zag plane approaching its summit. A long road, called 
the " Street of the Dead," strewn on both sides with 
heaps of w^eather-worn stones, indicating constructions, 
extends from it to that of the Moon. Both are now 
grown with scrubby nopals and pepper-trees. 

A couple of children ran out from a cottage at the foot 
of the Pyramid of the Sun, to sell ^^ caritas^^ the little 
antiquities, the day I approached to climb it. From the 
top you see other villages, as San Francisco, Santa Maria 
Cuatlan, San Martin. The inhabitants of San Francisco 



have erected a cross here, where an idol, with a bur- 
nished shield, once stood to catch the first rays of the 
rising sun, and come in procession each year, on the 3d 
of May, to conduct a religious ceremonial and drape it 
with flowers. The white summit of Popocatepetl barely 
shows itself above the intervening range of the Kio Frio. 
The oliiciators at the pagan altar may have hailed it spar- 
kling afar, like another sacrificial fire. The country round 
about is garden -like, abounding in maize and maguey, 
sheep and cattle. I observed some large straw -ricks, 
fashioned by leisurely employes, in the prevailing taste 
for adornment, into the form of houses, with a figure of 
a saint chopped out in bass-relief. It was a calm, lovely 
Sunday. A fresh breeze played, though the sun was 
warm; cumulus clouds piled themselves up magnificent- 
ly ; and the tinkle of the church-bells came up from the 
surroundino; villao;es. 

The clouds — "luminous Andes of the air," as a poet 
has aptly called them — are of especial impressiveness, I 
think, above this great plain. I noted them again with 
great pleasure at Huamantla, in the state of Tlaxcala. It 
is a shabby place of unpainted adobe, out of which rise 
the fine domes and belfries of a dozen churches, as if 
they were enclosed in a brick-yard. Thither Santa Anna 
retired for his last futile resistance, after the Americans 
under Scott had taken the capital ; and there, according to 
the school history, " the terrible Amerian guerilla, Walker, 
was killed in personal combat by an intrepid Mexican of- 
ficer, Eulalio Yillasenor." Near by is Malinche, a moun- 
tain dubbed with a nickname given hy tlie Aztecs to 
Cortez, which is a feature of all this part of the country. 
It is not of great height, but of peculiar, volcanic shape. 
It is a long slope, made up of knobs and jags, reaching 
to a central point as sharp as an arrow-head. Peons are 


ploughing, with oxen and the primitive wooden plough, 
in fertile ground around its base, a!id its dark mass is 
thrown out boldly against dazzling banks of cloud. 


At Orizaba you are down in the tropics again, but not 
tropics of too oppressive a kind. A young friend from 
Mexico was making a visit there in a family to which I 
was admitted, and I was glad to see something of the 
place in a domestic way. It has, say, fifteen thousand 
inhabitants. The Alameda, with its two fountains, stone 
seats, orange-trees, and other shrubberies, is yqyj charm- 
ing; so is the little Zocalo, by the Cathedral. There 
grows in the gardens here the splendid tnlipan, a shrub 
in size like the oleander, the large flowers of which glow 
from a distance like scarlet lanterns. Tall bananas bend 
over the neatly whitened houses. My Hotel de Diligen- 
cias was white and attractive. Next to it a torrent tum- 
bled down a wild little gorge, amid a growth of bananas, 
and, passing under a bridge, turned flouring and paper 
mills. I had this under my eyes from my window ; and 
I had also an expanse of red-tiled roofs, gray belfries and 
domes, and the bold hill of El Borrego beyond. The city 
is enclosed by a rim of hills. It was now the season when 
the rains were growing frequent ; and a humid atmos- 
phere, and wet clouds, dragging low and occasionally 
dropping their contents, kept the vegetation of a fresh, 
vivid green. 

At the hotel table cVhote a couple of young men of 
very Indian physiognomy — lawyers, I should judge, by 
profession — talked pantheism and such-like subjects in 
the tone of Victor Hugo's students. A lady whose hus- 
band was a general oflicer told me that she had been in 



the United States — at New Orleans — accounting: thus for 
a little knowledge of English. That meant that she had 
shared her husband's exile there. One comes to under- 
stand and smile at it after a while. "'To7no el rumho a 
la costa^ y salio de la Repxiblica^ einhai'candose ])ara Or- 
leans'^'* — "He took the road to the coast and sallied from 
the Eepublic, embarking himself for New Orleans" — has 
passed almost into a formula in the accounts of public 
men, New Orleans having always been a notable place 
of temporary refuge and plotting for their return. 


There was a gaj- party, of station, who had come down 
to pasear a little, in a private car, and were taking back 
with them a great supply of the flowers and fruits of the 
tropics. Shall I reluctantly admit that they all ate with 
their knives, and with the sharp edge foremost? Our 
waiter gave us, smilingly, soup without a spoon, this and 
that other dish without a fork, and hastened off for long 
absences; or he would apathetically say, "iV^(y ftay^^ — 
*' There is none" — of a dish, but would bring it if it were 
insisted on with decision. A fellow-guest informed me 
at dessert that he had been in JS^ew York, and that the 
American fruits and dulces — sweets — were all alike and 
insipid. This shows that there is a natural equilibrium 
in things, for it is precisely the complaint that visitors 
from the North first make of those of the tropics. 

My acquaintances in the place were the family of the 
Licenciado — let us say — Herrera y Arroyo. The names 
of both masculine and feminine progenitors are thus 
usually linked together by the "^" — and. They told 
me that there was very little formal entertaining done. 
They occupied themselves with embroidery, studying 
English, and domestic matters. Their house was roomy, 
but had little furniture. The rocking-chair can never 
again be called a peculiarly Yankee feature by anybody 
who has seen it in the lower latitudes. The typical Mex- 
ican parlor, or living-room, has, like the one here, a mat 
spread down in the centre, on a brick floor, and two cane 
rocking-chairs on one side and two on the other, in which 
the inmates spend much of their time. 

We had a kind of picnic one day to the Barrio Nuevo, 
a very pretty coffee-and-milk-like cascade of the Rio Ori- 
zaba. Boys ran out from thatched cottages in the edge 
of town to pick flowers and offer them to the senoi'itas, 
expecting to be rewarded, of course, with a little consid- 


eration. There is another cascade, even prettier — the 
Rincon Grande. 

The next day we went to the sugar ingenio of Jalapilla. 
A fine wide avenue of trees stretched up to it. The lo- 
custs were singing in them. The grass and trees were 
exquisitely green. The snow-peak of Orizaba, hidden at 
tlie town itself, here rises above intervening hills. There 
were arcades, and monumental gateways, and a massive 
aqueduct on arches, which brings the water from a fine 
torrent. In the sunless green archways of the old aque- 
duct the seiloritas found with rapture specimens of rare 
and delicate ferns growing. Ox-wains brought the cane to 
the mills. We watched it through the processes of crush- 
ing in the machinery, and tasted the pleasant sap when 
first expressed, and later at some of the stages of boiling 
down. Aguardiente is also made on a large scale. The 
peasants along the road sell you a draught of it in its 
unfermented state, witli tamales. The residence attached 
is a large, two-story white house, with a high iron gate 
between white posts. It was loaned to Maximilian as a 
country retreat by the conservative owners at one time. 
At present it is shabby and unfurnished, but a single 
room being occupied by the proprietor, who has the 
rongh-and-ready tastes of a ranchero, and little taste for 


At one of the theatres at this time was playing, by a 
Zaraziiela, or "variety" company, " La Torre de Neslo 
6 Margarita de Borgogno ;" at the other, by a juvenile 
company, " La Fille de Madame Angot." 

Whoever would thoroughly enjoy Mexico must have 
the taste for old architecture. There is no end to it, and 
it is often the only resource. It is of that fantastic ro- 


COCO into wliicli tlie Renaissance fell, in the luxury and 
florid invention of its later stages; bnt even where least 
defensible, from the point of view of logic and fitness, it 
is redeemed now by its mouldering, its time-stains, and 
superposed layei's of half- obliterated colors. Little can 
be said, except in this way, for the carvings and various 
detail, but the masses are invariably of a grand and noble 
simplicity. The material is generally rubble-stone and 
cement, and cannot be very expensive. The principal 
lines of the style are horizontal. The dome, semi-circular 
in shape, plays a great part in it. I have counted not 
less than eight, like those of St. Mark's, at Venice, on a 
single church. The dome is built, if I mistake not, of 
rubble and cement also, on a centring of regular masonry, 
perhaps even of wood. It is a reminiscence of the Moors. 
These edifices were put up three hundred years ago, by 
builders in the flush of the Byzantine influence, which 
radiated from Granada, then lately conquered. I know 
of no school in which the niggling, petty, and expensive 
character of our own efforts in this line could be better 
corrected. Yamenos! Will not some of our leisurely 
young architects with a taste for the picturesque travel 
here, with their sketch-books, and bring us back plans 
and suggestions from this impressive work, for use among 

Some of the old churches take an added interest from 
their present fate. It would have been monotonous to 
have them all alike in full ceremonial, and now they are 
pathetic. I used to linger to hear the buglers practise in 
the cloistered church of Carmen, used as a barracks. It 
is stripped of everything, the pavement broken, the w^alls 
full of bullet-holes, and painted with the names of detach- 
ments, as 18° <f^ Infanteria^ 7° Compana de Grenaderos, 
which have occupied it. In the smoke-stains, the damp. 


to which patches of gilding still adhere, and the vestiges 
of scaling fresco, dim, mysterious visions are made out. 
The bare chancel dais, still surviving, gives to the inte- 
rior the aspect of some noble throne-room. In our own 
country such a monument would be inestimably prized, 
and would become a pilgrimage-place from far and near ; 
but here it is simply one of a great number. 

In the little public plaza outside a few convicts were 
repairing the paths. A pair of them would bring some 
dirt, about an ordinary wheelbarrow full, on a stretcher, 
dump it in a leisurely way, and go back for more, all with 
plentiful deliberation. They might have been laborers, 
engaged by the city aldermen, on a New York boulevard. 
A couple of soldiers with muskets lounged on the stone 
benches to guard them as they worked. The punishment 
of the prisoners could hardly have been in what they did, 
but principally in the exposure — unless, indeed, they were 
taken from a different part. of the country. I wondered 
if their friends came here sometimes and watched them; 
and what a pain it must have been for the sensitive to 
work thus, hedged round by an invulnerable restraint and 
infamy, in sight of the homes where they had lived and 
all the ordinary avocations of life in which they had 

An important cotton-factory at Orizaba has a fine ar- 
chitectural gateway, and a statue of the founder, Manuel 
Escandon (1807 to 1862), in the court, after the practice 
heretofore adverted to. Paper is also made here. A se- 
ries of fines is prescribed, in printed rules, for the hands 
coming late in the morning and falling into other misde- 
meanors. The sum of these makes up a fund for chari- 
table use among themselves. A savings-bank department 
is also conducted for the benefit of the operatives. To 
encourage savings an extra liberal interest is paid when 


the ainount on deposit has reached fifty dollars. To 
avoid in part the interruption of the frequent church 
holidays, a dispensation had been obtained from the ec- 
clesiastical authorities, allowing work to go on, on most 
of them, as usual. 


From Orizaba the next stage was to Cordoba. Cor- 
doba is in the full tropics, and there I first made acquaint- 
ance with the coffee culture, the leading industry of the 
place. The plant is less striking in aspect than I had 
expected. It is a bush, with small, dark, glossy leaves, 
its stem never over six or seven inches in diameter, even 
at an age of fifty years. It is twelve feet high at most, 
but usually topped and kept lower for greater conven- 
ience in harvesting the product. It bears a little axillary 
white flower, fragrant like jasmine, and the green berries 
at the same time. A coffee plantation has not the breadth 
of t\\Q platanara8^t\\Q fields of towering bananas; but it 
needs shade, and large oaks are left distributed through 
it which accomplish this purpose. If left to the sun 
wholly it yields large crops at first, then dies. The cof- 
fee plant should bear after tlie fourth or fifth year, and 
yield a half-pound yearly for fifty or sixty years. It 
should have cost, up to the time of beginning to bear, 
about twenty-five cents. This is supposing a high culti- 
vation. By the more shiftless method commonly found 
in use here it costs but half as much, but, on the other 
hand, yields no more than three ounces on an average. 

Some few Americans, and other foreigners, have estab- 
lished themselves at Cordoba, and lead a dreamy existence 
in the shade. At one time it was the scene of an exten- 
sive coffee-planting by ex-Confederate generals, but these 
attempts were not successful. I was fortunate enough 



to be conducted about by an old gentleman, of German 
birth, who had lived here forty years. He had the tastes 
of a naturalist and farmer, and the existence pleased him. 
He took in his liand a machete from the wall, and we set 
forth for a walk, with mnch improving discourse by the 
w^ay, in tlie fields and plantations. The macTiete^ a long 
half cleaver, half sword, opens you a path through a thick- 
et, cuts you a coffee or an orange stick, lops an orchid 
from its high perch on the rugged tree-bark, or brings 
down a tall banana, and splits open its covering to serve 
as a protection to a budget of botanical specimens. Some 
small grandchildren of the house begged to accompany 
us. They had hardy, out-of-door habits, and ran by our 
sides with merry clamor, finding a hundred things to 
interest them along the way. 

My genial guide had planted coffee himself. Much 
money has been lost at it, it seems, and it cannot be 
very profitable except under economical processes and an 
improved market. When transportation becomes cheap- 
er we shall have introduced into the United States from 
Mexico also many choice fruits, notably the fine Ma- 
nilla mango, not now known. The fruits of the country 
grow on you with experience. To my taste the juicy 
mango, which at its best combines something of the mel- 
on, pine-apple, peach, and pear, is the most delicious of 
them all. Other fruits are the chirimoj^a, guava, mame, 
granadita (or pomegranate), zapote, chazapote, tuna, agua- 
cate, and many more, the distinctive peculiarities of which 
I could not describe in a week. 

The best soil for the coffee is that of virgin slopes, ca- 
pable of being well manured. It should be manured once 
in two years. The planting takes place in the rainy 
season, and the principal harvest is in November and 
December. Women and children cut off the berries, 


which are then dried five or six weeks, and barked ; or 
are barked earlier by a machine. The chief labor con- 
sists in destroying the weeds, which must be done from 
two to six times a year. The plants are set in squares, 
at a distance of about seven feet apart. The trees rec- 
ommended for shade are the fresno, or ash, cedro (cedar), 
the huisache, aguacate, maxcatle, cajiniquil, and tepehuaje, 
the characteristics of which I could hardly explain, more 
than those of the fruits, except that they are generally 
dark and glossy-leaved, and many of them as large as our 
elms. There is a theory, too, in favor of shading by ba- 
nanas, and plantations are found where the two grow 

But a native proprietor with whom I talked objects to 
this. " The platano is a selfish and grasping plant," he 
says, indignantly. "It draws twice and thrice its propor- 
tionate amount of nourishment from the soiL Is it not 
beaten down, too, in every storm ? And the ravaging 
hedgehog comes in search of it, and, while he is about 
it, destroys the coffee as well. K'o, indeed, no combina- 
tion of platano and coffee for me !" 

The poor platano ! However, it can stand abuse. How 
quickly it grows! Its great leaves, more or less tattered 
by friction, flap and rustle above your head like banners 
and sails as you walk about in the tropical plantation. It 
is called the " bread of the tropics." An acre of land 
will produce enough of it to support fifty people, whereas 
an acre in wheat will support only two. If the tropics 
had had a good deal harder time in getting their bread, 
by-the-way, they would not have been in so down-trodden 
and slipshod a condition. 

I will not say that we had the better coffee at our hotel 
for being in its own country. It is the old story of " shoe- 
maker's children " again, I suppose. On the contrary, I 


recollect it as especially poor. The hotel — possibly it has 
improved bj this time — was wretchedly kept and served. 
They gave us half a dozen kinds of meat in succession, 
without ever a vegetable, in such a luxuriance of them. 
The waiters were sunk in apathy, the management even 
more so. They seem often to say to you, with an ill- 
concealed aversion, at a Mexican hotel, "If you will stay, 
if you will insist on bringing your traps in, we wnll do 
what we can for you, but we are not at all anxious for it." 

Pack-mules were kept in the court, and under a clois- 
ter at one side women and girls were stripping tobacco. 
Your room, at a provincial hotel, opens upon a gallery in 
which mocking-birds are hung in wooden cages — always 
one at least. It is the practice of the Mexican mocking- 
bird to sleep continuously throughout the day, so as to be 
in health and spirits for the exercise of the night. He 
begins at midnight, and continues his dulcet ingenuity of 
torture till daybreak. Naturalists have had much to say 
of the mocking-bird, comparing him to a whole forest full 
of songsters, and the like. It may be unwise to set up in 
opposition to so much praise, but there are times when 
a planing-mill in the vicinity, or a whole foundery full 
of trip-hammers, would be a blessing and relief in com- 

Should the mocking-bird have injudiciously impaired 
his strength during the day, so as to allow of a brief 
respite, the interval is filled in by the shrill, quavering 
whistles of the street watchmen, who blow to each other 
every quarter of an hour during the night, to show that 
they are awake and vigilant. 

You leave Cordoba at 4.30 in the morning; that is, if 
you go by the up-train. I was awakened an hour too soon 
at my hotel, which, having to call me, wanted it over as 
soon as possible. I had leisure while waiting to collect 


the views of one of these watchmen. lie showed nie 
the Remington rifle with which he was armed. He said 
that he went on duty at 7 p.m. and finished at 5.30 a.m., 
and received three and a half reals — forty-two cents — a 
day, which he did not think enough. There are no cabs 
at Cordoba. It is a tram-car, making a total of two 
trips a day, that takes you, bag and baggage, two dark 
miles or so to the station. 

But I did not leave before first visiting the Indian 
village of Amatlan. I do not insist that erudition of 
incalculable value has been brought to light in these 
travels, but they were a succession of excursions into 
the actual heart of things. I was pleased when I could 
find something unmodified by the innovations of railway 
travel, and witness the familiar, every -day life of the 
people. Perhaps we never thoroughly understand any- 
body until we learn his routine. A stimulus to what we 
usually neglect, and take as a matter of course, is aroused 
abroad. Law-making, education, buying and selling, eat- 
ing and drinking, marriage, and the burial of the dead, all 
yield entertainment. The traveller wdio spreads before 
us only the outre and startling that he has seen maj^ still 
leave us very much in the dark about where he has been. 
In Mexico, however, almost everything is outre. 

To Amatlan and back is a comfortable day's excursion. 
We found saddle-horses for hire, and a young Indian as a 
guide, and set off. My companion on this excursion was 
a commercial traveller, a sprightly young American of 
Spanish origin. Commercial traveller in machetes and 
other cutlery : such w^as his profession. The machetes 
w^ere of American make. I have one hanging in my room 


at this writing which came from Water Street, in New 
York. This agent had taken his last order (having can- 
vassed the little store-keepers in the plaza under my own 
view, as if they had been those of Kalamazoo, Aurora, 
or Freeport), and was awaiting the sailing of his steamer 
from Yera Cruz. Having nothing more to do, he entered 
into the examination of manners and customs for their 
own sake with a certain zest, though perhaps compre- 
hending for the first time that such things could be 
worth anybody's notice. 

Amatlan is the richest Indian village in — well, one of 
the richest of Indian villages. Its plantations of pine-ap- 
ples are the finest in the state of Yera Cruz, to which all 
this territory from Orizaba down belongs, Orizaba being 
its capital. The pines grow about sixteen inches in height, 
and should last ten years. They are set in narrow lines, 
and the general aspect of the field from a little distance 
is that of large sedge-grass. You will buy three of them 
sometimes for a tlaco, one cent and a half. We met na- 
tives driving donkey -loads of them to market. There 
w^ere some fields of tobacco, of fine quality, in flow^er. 
The Peak of Orizaba is magnificently seen from all this 
district. It is lovelier and bolder than at first upon famil- 
iar acquaintance. Church, the painter, finds the prefer- 
able point of view farther up the railroad, using the wild 
gorges of Fortin as a foreground. The village proved to 
be composed chiefly of wooden and cane huts, shingled 
or thatched, and the population to be exclusively Indian. 
They do not wish any others to join them. They display 
everywhere the same clannish disposition. If persons of 
European origin who might come to remain could not 
be got rid of by churlishness, it is thought that severer 
means would be resorted to. 

The Indian race, as a rule, is patient and untiring in 


certain minor directions. Tiiej make long, swift jour- 
neys, for instance, acting as beasts of burden or messen- 
gers, so that, seeing their performances, the words of Buf- 
fon come forcibly to mind : " The civilized man knows 
not half his powers." But in the greater concerns of life, 
those requiring forethought for a permanent future, they 
are very improvident. Perhaps, however, those of Amat- 
lan differ from others, or perhaps the general reputation 
may not be wholly deserved, for the Cordobans tell yon 
that Amatlan is even richer than Cordoba. 

There are said to be a number of native residents worth 
from $50,000 to $80,000 each. They buy land, and bury 
their surplus cash in the ground. It may well enough be 
that the lack of savings-banks, or any more secure place 
of deposit for money than the ground, has something to 
do with the improvidence complained of. The alcalde, 
the chief of them, w^as estimated as worth a million, 
though this I should very much doubt. He had no large 
w^ays of using his wealth, but was said to incline to ava- 
rice and delight in simply piling it up. Tliere was a 
project at one time to build a tram-road hence to Cor- 
doba, the capital to be supplied in part by the Indians, 
but it fell through. Some of the well-to-do send their 
sons to good schools, and even to Mexico, to take the 
degree of licentiate. These favored scions, on their re- 
turn, must put on the usual dress, and live in no way 
differently from the rest. The daughters, on the other 
hand, are never educated, but set, w^ithout exception, to 
rolling tortillas and the other domestic drudgery. 


We dined at an open-air shanty posada, with dogs and 
pigs running freely about under our feet. Coffee, wnth- 


out milk, sugar, and pine-apples were all supplied by the 
fields about. Some few spectators were interested, but 
not very much, in a slight sketch I made of their build- 
ings and costume. My commercial traveller, by way of 
arousing greater enthusiasm in this, represented that it 
was to be " put in a machine " afterward, and showed, 
by a dexterous chuckle and twist of the thumb, how it 
would then be so improved that you would never know 
it. But even this stirred them only indifferently. 

We visited the alcalde, in his quarters. He was 
bristly-haired, clad in cotton shirt and drawers, and bare- 
legged, like the rest. Official business for the day was 
over, but he showed us the cell in which on occasion he 
locked up evil-doers. He was said to administer justice 
impartially to the rich and poor alike, and with a natural 
good-sense. But for occasional perversions of justice ef- 
fected by a Spanish secretary he was obliged to employ, 
he himself being illiterate, it was thought that his court 
averaged well with the more pretentious tribunals of the 

We rode back by a different way, through a large, cool 
wood. It abounded in interesting orchids, and there was 
an undergrowth of coffee run wild, the glossy green of 
its leaves as shining as if just wet by rain. There was 
not that excessive tangle and luxuriance supposed to be 
characteristic of the tropics ; our own woods are quite as 
rampant. All that is found, you learn, in Tehuantepec, for 
instance, and Central America. There tree-growths seize 
upon a dwelling, crunch its bones, as it were, and bear up 
part of the walls into the air; and it is vegetable more 
than animal life that is feared. We forded three pretty 
brooks, and came to an upland where cows were pastur- 
ing, and the steeples of Cordoba were again in sight. 
Our young guide lassoed a cow, led her to a shed where 


tobacco was drying, and offered us the refreshment of a 
draught of new milk. 

Being asked if this were quite regular and correct, he 
answered that the cows were there at pasturage in charge 
of his uncle. I trust that this was so. 




You turn off from the junction of Apizaco, on the Yera 
Cruz railway, to go to the large, fine city of Puebla. It 
is the capital of the state of the same name, and has a 
population of about seventy-seven thousand. Many pros- 
perous /hZ'r/c'^^^ (factories) are seen along the fertile val- 
ley of approach ; then the forts, attacked and defended 
on the great Cinco de Mayo, appear on the hills, looking 
down, like Mont Yalerien and Charenton above Paris. 

Certainly everything out of Mexico is not Cuatitlan. 
Puebla is very clean, well paved, and well drained. The 
streets are not too wide, as many of them are at the capi- 
tal. I thought our hotel, De Diligencias, which was very 
well kept, by a Frenchman, much better than the Itur- 
bide. It had been a palace in its day, and had traces yet 
of armorial sculptures. Our rooms opened upon a wide 
upper colonnade, where the table was spread. It was full 
of flowers, which shut out whatever might have been 
disagreeable to the eye below. I am bound to admit that 
the remorseless mocking-bird sang all night among them. 
I have mentioned heretofore the tiled front of a shop, 
"La Ciudad de Mexico." A picturesque mosaic-work in 
tiles of earthenware and china upon a ground of blood- 
red stone abounds. Sometimes it is a diagonal pattern, 
covering a whole surface ; again only a broad wainscot or 


frieze. Plaques, representing saints, which jon take at 
first for hand-bills, are let into walls. These tiles are 
made at Puebla, where there are as many as ten fabricas 
of them, the best in the country. I visited one of these, 
found the manufacture cheap, and brought away some 
specimens. The workmanship is rude and hasty, but the 
effect artistic and adapted to its purpose. The most lib- 
eral example of their use, and one of the most charming 
interiors I have ever seen, was that of what is now the 
Casa de Dementes, or lunatic asylum for men, of the state 
of Puebla. It was formerly a convent of the nuns of 
Santa Rosa, and was decorated after their taste. En- 
trance, vestibule, stairs, central court, and cloisters, with 
fountain in the centre; balustrade, benches, tanks and 
bath-tubs, kitchen furnace, and numberless little garden 
courts, are all encrusted with quaint ceramics. It is like 
walking about in some magnified piece of jewelry. The 
blue-and-yellow fountain in its court is as Moorish as 
anything in Morocco. 

There are forty-two patients in this institution, with an 
attendant appointed to each ten. The rich among them 
pay $16 a month, the rest nothing. Another one, San 
Roque, contains thirty-two women, also maintained by the 
state. The general hospital, of San Pedro, another large 
ex-convent, with a nice garden, was clean, cool, and well 
ordered ; and — curious feature to note — departments for 
allopath and homoeopath arranged impartially side by 
side. These governments take, officially, no sides with 
either, but give them both a showing. 

The Cathedral at Puebla is equal in magnificence to 
that at Mexico. There is the usual Zocalo, full of charm- 
ing plants, before it. The large theatre, "De Guerrero," 
entered by a passage from the portales, had but a scant 
audience on the evening of our attendance, but was itself 


worthy of inspection. It had four tiers of boxes and a 
pit ; the decoration was in white and gold, upon a ground 
of blue-and-wliite wall-paper, the whole of a chaste and 
elegant effect. The peasant costumes of women in each 
of the provinces vary in colors and material, though the 
same general shapes are preserved. At Cordoba, white 
and striped cotton stuffs were in order; at Mexico, 
Egyptian-looking blue-and-black woollen goods. Those 
in all this part of the country I thought particularly 
pleasing ; and the great market and gay Parian, or ba- 
zaar, where they are principally displayed, were not soon 
exhausted as a spectacle. The men are usually bare- 
legged, and in white cotton. In the warm part of the 
day they carry their bright-colored scrapes folded over 
one shoulder, and when it is cooler put them on, by sim- 
ply inserting their heads through the slit. 

Now comes by a woman in white, with a red cap and 
girdle ; now two girls of fourteen, all in white, hurrying 
swiftly along under heavy burdens. Here are women in 
embroidered jackets, others in chemises, with profuse 
bands of colored beads, or rebosos of rayed stuff, like the 
Algerian burnous. Skirts are of white blanket material, 
with borders of blue, or blue with white, or yellow. 
The principal garment is a mere skirt of uncut goods, 
wrapped around the hips and kept in place by a bright 
girdle. Above this is whatever fantastic waist one 
pleases, or a garment with an opening for the head, after 
the fashion of the scrape. To all this is added a profu- 
sion of necklaces of large beads, amber, blue, and green, 
and large silver ear-rings, or others of glass, in the Mex- 
ican national colors, green, white, and red. There is a 
universal carrying of burdens. The men accommodate 
theirs in a large wooden cage divided into compartments. 
The women tie over their backs budgets done up in a 


rug of coarse maguey fibre. Often they carry a cliild 
or an earthen jar in it ; or, when full, pile a large green 
or red water-jar on the top. 

Affording so abundant material for the artist, they 
were excessively suspicious of any attempt to turn it to 
account. There were traditions among them that bad 
luck would be encountered should they allow pictures to 
be taken. It was to take away something from them- 
selves, and they would be left incomplete — probably to 
waste and die. Nor could their costumes be bought from 
them except with great difficulty. Much as still remains, 
there has been a great change, and disappearance, since 
the close of Maximilian's empire, of local peculiarities in 
dress. There has been a disappearance, too, with the ad- 
vent of machinery and imported notions, of many pretty 
hand-made articles that formerly adorned the markets. 
Among these were carvings in charcoal, once of a pecul- 
iar excellence. Of those that remain still of great in- 
terest are life-like puppets, in wax and wood, of figures 
of the country, costumed after their several types. 

On the evening of May 19th, as we sat at dinner in 
the hotel corridor, down came the rain in the court. In 
a few moments a row of long gargoyles were spouting 
streams which were white against the blackness, and 
crossed one another like a set display. ''Va! for the 
rainy season !" said the host. It usually begins by the 
15th. ^''Voild! ten months past in which we have had 
scarcely a drop !" 

As almost any desired climate can be had by varying 
more or less the altitude, the rainy season is of variable 
date in different parts of the country. At Mexico it is 
very much later. I did not find it, either here or elsewhere, 
so incommoding as might be fancied. It rains principal- 
ly at night, and the succeeding day is bright and clear. 


In Mexico, as in California, the rainy season means tliat 
in which rain falls about as with us, while the dry sea- 
son is that in which there is none at all. 


Have any forgotten the tragic advent, and preliminary 
agitations, of the entry of Cortez into the sacred city 
of Cholnla? He assembled the caciques and notables in 
the great square, and, at a given signal, turned his arms 
upon them and slew them, to the number of three thou- 
sand. He had discovered an artful plot among them for 
the destruction of his army, and it was his aim in this way 
to strike such a terror into the country that he should 
have done wnth such things once for all. The god wor- 
shipped at Cholula was a far milder one than the bloody 
war god at Mexico — the peaceful Quetzalcoatl, God of the 
Air. He instructed the people in agriculture and the arts. 
His reign was a golden age. Cotton grew already tinted 
with gorgeous dyes, and a single ear of maize was as 
much as a man could carry. To his honor the largest of 
all the teocallis and temples was erected. He was repre- 
sented with painted shield, jewelled sceptre, and plumes 
of fire. Could Cortez have waited till now (such are the 
changes of time) he might have gone into Cholula from 
Puebla, to the foot of this very pyramid, in a beautiful 
horse-car. A tram-way, ultimately to be extended, and 
operated by steam, reached to this point, a distance of six 
miles, and our conveyance was a horse-car with a glass 
front (Kew York built) which I have never seen equalled 
elsewhere. The driver of it was a Tennessee negro, who 
had married an Indian maid and settled, much respected, 
in the country. He had formerly been body-servant of a 
Mexican general, had travelled with him in the United 


States and Europe, and picked up several languages. He 
called upon us afterward at our hotel, to politely inquire 
our impressions of his tram-way. 

The principal features of the trip were exquisite views 
of Popocatepetl and Ixtacihuatl across yellow grain-fields; 
a dilapidated convent turned to an iron foundery ; an old 
aqueduct crossing the plain ; a Spanish bridge, sculpt- 
ured with armorial bearings, across the river Atoyac ; 
and a fine grist-mill; and farther on a cotton-mill, turned 
by the water-power of the same river. 

There has been a controversy as to whether the great 
mound was natural or artificial in origin. I do not see 
how there can be doubt about it now, for where num.erous 
deep cuts have been made in it, for roads or cultivation, 
the artificial structure of adobe bricks is plainly visible. 
Such a place as it is to lie upon at ease and dream and go 
back to the traditions of the past ! You may cast yourself 
down under large trees growing on the now ragged slopes, 
or by the pilgrimage chapel on the crest, where the God of 
the Air once reared his grotesque bulk. There is a sculpt- 
ured cross, dated 1666, at the edge of the terrace, and 
rose-bushes grow out of the pavement. I know of no 
prospect of fertile hill and dale, scattered with quaint vil- 
lages, in any country that surpasses it. An American 
was there that day with the purpose of buying a haci- 
enda, if he could find one suitable, and I for one thought 
there were many plans much less sensible. 

Choluia had four hundred towers in its pagan times, 
and it may have had round about it almost as many spires 
when the Christian domination succeeded. Let me recite 
the names of a few of the villages seen from the top 
of the great pyramid, all with their churches, by twos 
and threes, or more : San Juan ; San Andres ; Santiago ; 
Chicotengo; La Santissima ; La Soledad ; San Rafael; 


San Pablo Mexicalcingo ; San Diego ; La Madalena ; 
Santa Marta ; Santa Maria ; San Isidoro ; San Juan Cal- 
vario ; San Juan Tlanutla ; San Mateo ; San Miguelito 
(Little Saint Michael) ; Jesus ; San Sebastian. 

One of the old churches lying deserted in the fields 
might be purchased, no doubt, and utilized for the basis 
of a picturesque manor-house. Suppose we should take 
yonder one, for instance, down by the Haciendita de 
Cruce Vivo — the Little Hacienda of the Living Cross 1 
A cloud is just now passing over, marking the place 
with a dark patch. A brook is leaping white through 
the meadow, trees stretch back from the walls, and the 
rest lying in strong light is divided by patches of an ex- 
quisite cultivation with the regularity of market-gardens. 

We dined, at Cholula, at the clean Fonda de la Re- 
forma, in a large, brick-floored room, invaded by flowers 
from a court-j^ard garden. No people can fashion such 
charming homes without excellent traits ; so much is pos- 
itive beyond dispute. We were admitted, I think, to the 
residence portion of the house, the owner of which was a 
doctor, and we examined, while waiting for our repast, a 
lot of his antiquated medical books, some dating from 

The plaza is as large as at Mexico, but grass-grown — for 
the place is of but modest pretensions now — and lonely, 
except on market-day, when the scene is as gay and the 
costumes even prettier than at Puebla itself. In the cen- 
tre is a Zocalo ; at one side a vast array of battlemented 
churches. That of the Capilla Real, consisting of three 
in one, is now decayed and abandoned. On the other is 
a fine colonnade devoted to the Ayuntamienta, or town 
council, with the jail. What a pity it is that we have so 
scant accounts left us of the life of Mexico when all this 
feudal magnificence was in full blast! 





I cannot say just why I visited so many prisons. Per- 
haps because they were always under the eye, adjoining 
the public offices, and the prisoners were a cheerful lot, 
who did what they could to attract attention. At Cho- 
liila we found them weaving, on a primitive kind of 
hand-loom, bright sashes of red and blue, which are sold 
in part for their own benefit. Their accommodations 
compared favorably with the barracks along-side. When 
we asked questions about them they stopped work and 
listened attentively. The guards, I fancy, thouglit we 
were trying to identify some persons wlio had robbed us 
— not conceiving of sucli a visit for the pure pleasure 
of it. 


"When I inquired the way to Tlaxcala there w^as such 
an ignorance on the subject at my hotel, at Puebla, that it 
almost seemed as if I was the first person who could ever 
have been there. A luxurious Englishman abandoned 
me at this part of the expedition, claiming that nobody 
knew whether there w^ere conveyances from the junction, 
whether tliere were even inns. It seemed to him a case 
of sitting on a Tlaxcalan door-step and perishing of hun- 
ger, or being washed away by the torrents of the rainy 
season. I found, however, that there was a choice of two 
trains a day, and went on alone. What tlien ? I suppose 
Cortez did rather more than that. Tlaxcala was the most 
undaunted and terrible of all his enemies. He made his 
way to it after insuperable obstacles, and it was only by 
the alliance of the warlike Tlaxcalans, when he had finally 
won them over to his cause, that he effected the conquest 
of Mexico. 

The recollection had involuntarily given me rather 
dark and depressing ideas of Tlaxcala, as a place of 


gloomy forests and gorges suited for martial resistance. 
Who that has not seen it, I wonder, has the proper con- 
ception of Tlaxcala? 


It is not gloomy; there are no forests; the country is 
open and rolling ; and the name " Tlaxcala," it now ap- 
pears, is fertility, the "Land of Bread." I left at 11 a.m., 
and arrived at the village of Santa Ana, on the railroad 
to Apizaco, in a couple of hours. After a time a convey- 
ance was to be had, in the shape of a dilapidated hack 
drawn by three horses, in the lead, and two mules. This 
was run as a stage-line to Tlaxcala ; and in an hour more, 
largely of floundering over ruts and following the beds 
of swollen brooks — for nobody ever thinks of mending a 
road in Mexico — we were there. We met, on the wa}^, the 
carriage of tlie state Governor, an ancient coupe, improved 
by the addition of a boot, and drawn by two horses and 
two mules. I was deposited on the sidewalk at the upper 
side of a plaza, and scrutinized keenly when there by the 
shop-keepers of the surrounding arcades and loungers on 
comfortable stone benches. 

Tlaxcalan allies, in the shape of a small boy and a 
larger assistant, seized upon my satchel, and we set out 
for a personal inspection of such houses of entertainment 
as were to be heard of. The Posada of Genius was alto- 
gether too wretched and shabby, as is apt to be the way 
with genius. The Meson of the — I have forgotten its 
name — was too full to offer accommodation, and had a 
morose landlord, who seemed to rejoice in the fact. I 
came at last to a house where simply chambers were to 
be let. It was highly commended by my smaller Tlaxca- 
lan ally, a very rapid-talking small boy, with the air of 
one much in the habit of dodging missiles. 


"It will be two reals" (twenty-five cents) "the night, 
as you see it," said the proprietor, weaving a hand in an 
interior bare of furniture. 

"Ah ! two reals the night !" 

" But perhaps the gentleman would desire also a bed, 
a wash-stand, and a looking-glass?" 

" Yes, let us say a bed, wash-stand, and looking-glass." 

" Then it will be four reals the night." 

The larger Tlaxcalan ally, who had had nothing to do, 
established a claim for services by offering praise of each 
successive article of furniture as it was brought in, as, 
"J/wy huena caina^ senor P^ ^^ Muy honito espejoP'' — "A 
very fine bed, senor!" "A very charming mirror, senor!" 
— and the like. 


Now, all this is all exactly as it happened, and one 
should hardly be compelled to spoil a good story by add- 
ing to it. Yet this appearance of amusing stupidity is 
dissipated, after all, by remembering the methods of 
travel in the country. Many, or most, journeys are 
made on horseback, and the guest is likely to want only 
a room where he can lock up his saddle and saddle-bags 
and sleep on his own blankets, or, if luxurious, on a light 
cot, carried with other baggage on a pack-mule. This is 
all the accommodation provided at the general run of 
the mesones. 

At the Fonda y Cafe de la Sociedad I supped, by the 
light of two candles, with a gentleman in long riding- 
boots, who had a paper-mill in the neighborhood. He 
told me that he had learned the business at Philadelphia. 
He was of a friendly disposition, and declared that I was 
to consider him henceforth my correspondent, so far as 
I might have need of one, on all matters, commercial and 


otherwise, at Tlaxcala. And to that extent I may say I 
do so consider him to this day. 

My room had, first, a pair of glass doors, then a pair of 
heavy wooden ones, and opened on a damp little court, 
in which the rain was falling. There were no windows 
nor transom, positively no other opening than a conple 
of dijninntive holes in the wooden door, like 

" The fiery eyes of Pauguk glaring at him througli the darkness," 

as one awoke to them in the early morning. An- 
other streak under the door figured as a sort of mouth. 
There was a clashing of swords in a corner of the shady 
and handsome Zocalo when I went out, and I fancied at 
first a duel, but it was only a couple of Burales going 
through their sabre exercise under direction of an officer. 
The morning was bright and beautiful. Hucksters w^ere 
putting up their stands in the arcades for the day's busi- 
ness. A new market elsewhere, consisting of a series of 
light, open pavilions, was one of the best in arrangement 
I have ever seen. 

Tlaxcala recalls some such provincial Italian place as 
Este, seat of the famous historic house of that name. It 
has once been more important than now. The persons 
of principal consideration are the state employes. It is 
the capital of the smallest of the states, the Rhode Island 
or Delaware of the Mexican federation. I entered the 
quarters of the Legislature, and found there the Gov- 
ernor, a small, fat, Indian -looking man, scarred with a 
deep cut on his cheek, conferring with a committee of 
his law-makers. There are eight of these in all, and they 
receive an annual stipend of $1000 each. In the legisla- 
tive hall a space is railed off for the president and two 
secretaries. There is a little tribune at this rail, from 
which the speeches are made. The members face each 


other, iu two rows, and comfortably smoke during their 
sessions, after the custom of the Congress at Mexico also. 
The rest is reserved for spectators. On the walls are four 
quaint old portraits of the earliest chiefs converted to 
Christianity, all with " Don " before their names. 

The secretary of the Ayuntamienta has in a glass case 
in his office some few idols, the early charter of the city 
and regulations of the province, and the tattered silken 
banner carried by Cortez iu the conquest. This last, once 
a rich crimson, is faded to a shabby coffee-color, and the 
silver has vanished from its spear-head, showing copper 
beneath. Tossed into corners were two large heaps of 
old, vellum-bound books from the convents. This is a 
common enough sight in Mexico. Treasures are abun- 
dant here which our own connoisseurs would delight to 
treat with the greatest respect. Apart from this there is 
no other museum nor especial display of antiquity. The 
town, kept nicely whitewashed, looks rather new. It con- 
tains, however, the oldest church 
in Mexico. The chapel of San 
Francisco, part of a dismantled 
convent, now used as a barracks, 
bears the date of 1529, and with- 
in it are the first baptismal font 
(the same in which the Tlaxca- 
lan chiefs above-mentioned were 
baptized by Cortez) and the first 
Christian pulpit in America. 
The ceiling is of panelled cedar, 
picked out with gilded suns and 
the like. The approach is up an inclined plane, shaded 
with ash-trees. Through three large arches of an entrance 
gate-way, flanked by a tower, the town below appears as 
through a series of frames. A massive church in the 




town plaza was cracked and unfitted for use bj an earth- 
quake in the year 1800, and its ruins stand untouched, 
with the bells still hanging in the steeple. 


To counterbalance this a modern church, very white, 
and a landmark to all the country round about, has been 
put up on the high hill of Ocatlan, a couple of miles 
back. I climbed there and looked down upon the pros- 
pect. Women and girls were going np to the sanctuary 
with bunches of roses, on some religious errand. There 
were w41d pinks by the wayside, the air was full of the 
twittering of birds, and the chimes rang musically. 
Looked down upon from the height, Tlaxcala was seen 



to be a compact little place, flat-roofed, low, almost ex- 
actly square. The wide bed of the Zatuapan River, now 
very shallow, wound by it. Tlie opposite hills, liung 
over by vapors and rain-clouds with changing lights 
among them, were now purplish and now indigo black. 


On tlie floor above me at my lodging resided, in a 
comfortable way, a doctor. He had with him a friend, 
French by nationality but long resident at Mexico, who 
was at present paseando a little here for his health. This 


gentleman confided to me, mjsterionslj, tliat, since spend- 
ing some time here, he liad reason to believe that there 
were mines of silver and gold in the vicinity. In fact, 
he knew of some. " An Indian, some years ago," he said, 
"brought to the padre of one of the churches two pa- 
pers containing a fine dust. It was poudre cVor — gold- 
dust — nothing less. What do you think of that?" 

I thought highly of it — as I always do of treasure 
stories; nothing is more entertaining. 

"There are indications, in reading history," he went 
on, " that much of the supply of the precious metals in 
the time of the Conquerors was taken from here. You 
are aware that most of the valuable mines were aban- 
doned by the Spaniards in the terrors of the War of In- 
dependence, and have never since been worked. Often 
their very location has been forgotten. I have a friend 
here who has certain knowledge of a place where poudre 
d^or can be found." 

He paused, perhaps to allow an offer to be made for 
an interest in the attractive enterprise, but none was 

He continued, alluringly : " It is my intention to enter 
into thorough explorations, now that I have leisure, as 
soon as my health is slightly more restored." 

I took the seat beside the driver on the ancient convey- 
ance, going back to Santa Ana. We w^ent along sandy 
lanes, in which the rain of the night before w^as almost 
dry, and between hedges of maguey. Maize on the right 
— tall but slender, and without the large ears we are ac- 
customed to; barley and wheat on the left. All the 
country fertile. Malinche boldly in sight, and a sky of 
rolling clouds, as in Holland. Shock-headed Indian chil- 
dren, with a Chinese look, holding babies, and peering at 
us out of rifts in palisades of organ-cactus. Bright skeins 

10^ ^ 


of wool in door-jards, and glimpses of peasants weaving 
serapes in interiors. I recollect that morning as one of 
a few of unalloyed content. Perhaps it was because, in 
being at Tlaxcala, I had gratified a curiosity of an excep- 
tional eagerness. 





AYe bought tickets for Pachuca at the Hotel Gillow, 
in Mexico. Pachuca, one of the earliest, and richest, of 
the mining districts in the country, notable for both its 
earlier and later history, is, fortunately, also one of the 
most accessible to the traveller from the capital. 

We took the train, from Buena Yista Station, at six in 
the morning. At Omeltusco, forty miles down the Vera 
Cruz Line, a group of diligences stood in waiting. Our 
own proved to be drawn by eight mules — two wheelers, 
four in the centre, and two leaders. We jolted along exe- 
crable roads, turned out where the mud-holes threatened 
to engulf us, and rode instead over high maguey stumps 
which threatened to hurl us back into them. The coun- 
try was covered with magueys. The driver, by whom I 
sat, on the box-seat, for the better view of what was pass- 
ing, asked me, in a patronizing way, 

"Have the [N'orte Americanos also pulque f and do 
they se horrachato (get drunk) with it, like people here ?" 

We reached San Agostin, a shabby adobe hamlet, at 
eleven o'clock, waited there a while for the Philadelphia- 
built horse-car on the tramway, of which I have before 
spoken, and were at Pachuca about sundown. As to sce- 
nery, historically, and from the point of view of its re- 
turns, Pachuca is rivalled among mining districts perhaps 


only by Guanajuato; but the place itself is shabby, and, 
lying nine thousand feet above the sea, its atmosphere is 
raw and penetrating even in July. Regularly every after- 
noon blow up a breeze and a dust like those w^hich have 
attained celebrity at San Francisco. 

There w^ere said to be ten thousand miners at work in 
the district. Perhaps five hundred are British subjects, 
originally from the tin mines of Cornw^all. They mani- 
fest in their new surroundings a rude independence of 
character amounting to surliness. I heard here of my 
French engineer who had been sent over to examine 
mining property. He had eccentrically given his left 
hand, after a way some Frenchmen have, to the captain 
of one of the mines, on his descent, and the colony talked 
of nothing but this. They had banded together to guy 
and mislead him in his inquiries as much as possible, and 
one of them told me, with a bitterness the trivial circum- 
stance hardly seemed to w^arrant, that if he came again, 
with his supercilious w^ay of treating people, they w^ould 
try to tumble him into some pit. Our poor friend, I 
fear, went away, if he believed what was told him, wdth 
some very singular items of information. 


Pachuca has become a good-sized city within a compar- 
atively modern period, while Ileal del Monte, adjoining, 
once more important, still remains a village. The Eng- 
lish element is not new in either. There was probably 
more of it toward 1827 than even now. On the close of 
the War of Independence an impression went abroad of 
most brilliant profits awaiting whoever would furnish 
capital to reopen and work the old Spanish mines aban- 
doned and ruined in the disasters of the long struggle. 


The idea was seized upon with especial avidity in Eng- 
land. It was represented that but two simple things were 
needed : the pumping-out of the water which had ac- 
cumulated in the disused shafts, and improved machinery 
for working at lower levels, than those which had been 
within the reach of the primitive appliances of the coun- 
try. Seven great English companies were formed, which 
proceeded to pour out millions upon millions of pounds, 
distributing the money among the several mining dis- 
tricts of chief repute ; and these half depopulated Coi'n- 
wall for laborers for the new interests. The idea was 
in itself a good one. Mexico had produced in three hun- 
dred years of mining, according to the estimate of Hum- 
boldt, $1,767,952,000 of value in the precious metals. 
The yield had been going on before the Revohition at 
the rate of $30,000,000 yearly. It was an industry of 
the greatest regularity. From 3000 to 5000 mines were 
in operation, and constituted its chief wealth. Its towns 
were mining towns; its great families mining families. 
The funds from this source had built the churches, the 
dams for irrigation by which the great agricultural 
estates were brought under cultivation, and had supplied 
the gifts and loans to the King by which the nobility 
secured their titles. By the Eevolution this source of 
wealth was exhausted and dried up. The new Congress 
of the country felt the imperative need of doing some- 
thing to reopen it, and encouraged the advent of foreign 
capital by a legislation which is still felt as a liberalizing 
influence in mining matters. 

The idea was a good one, as I say, but the foreign in- 
vestors did not sufficiently estimate the difficulties of their 
undertaking, the novelty of the country, language, per- 
sons, and processes, and the physical obstacles with which 
they had to deal. Almost without exception tliey lost 


money. The "boom" of 1824 was followed by a panic 
in 1826, a general depression at home, and, in course of 
time, the transfer of the interests to cheaper hands. 

Among the English companies mentioned was the Real 
del Monte Company, which bought up, among others, all 
the mines of the Count of Regla, at Real del Monte and 
Pachuca. These had produced in fifty years $26,500,000. 
The history of the growth of the Count's magnificence is 
briefly this. His principal vein, the Biscaina, had been 
worked continuously from the middle of the sixteenth 
century. Its yield in 1726 was nearly $4,500,000. In 
the beginning of the eighteenth century it was abandoned 
in consequence of the impossibility of drainage with the 
defective appliances of that day. A shrewd individual 
took up these mines anew in later years, and associated 
with him Don Pedro Tereros, a small capitalist, who be- 
came his heir. In 1762 Tereros struck a bonanza, and in 
twelve years took out $6,000,000. He procured the title 
of Count of Regla by his munificent gifts to Charles III., 
and, investing his money judiciously, entered upon the 
career of splendor to which reference has heretofore been 

By 1801, however, he found himself at such a depth 
with his levels that the yield was insufiicient to pay the 
expenses of extraction, and the mines were again disused. 
It was in this condition that the English company took 
them, knowing full well that there was treasure in the 
deeper levels, and proposing to bring it out with its 
improved machinery and Cornish labor. 

The director took a salary of $40,000 a year, built him- 
self a castellated palace, and rode out with a body-guard 
of fifty horsemen. A magnificent road was built to Reg- 
la, six leagues away. The only access thither, for the six 
hundred mules of the Count of Regla, had been by a dan- 


geroiis bridle-path. Five large steam-engines and lesser 
machinery were dragged up from the coast at Yera Cruz, 
occupying the labor of a hundred men and seven hundred 
mules for five months. 

In all this probably a million pounds was consumed. 
Treasure was not found as expected — what there was ap- 
pearing instead in new mines. After struggling hope- 
lessly a while the management passed into other hands. 
The parade was dispensed with, and the costly machinery 
sold out, to a Mexican company, for about its value as 
old iron, and then the property began to pay. 

An English "Anglo-Mexican Company" also owned 
mines at Pachuca, and in like manner came to grief. 
There was an element of luck in all this, too, it must be 
admitted. Less than a hundred feet from where work 
was stopped in the Eosario, for instance, one of the mines 
of the latter, the new company struck a bonanza, w^hich 
has been paying munificently ever since. 

The present director, Sefior Llandero y Cos, a brother 
of the Secretary of State, lives in the same castellated 
palace, but on a simpler scale. I had reason to know 
that even he had had not a little to suffer from the 
fierce independence of his surrounding Cornishmen. I 
descended into two of the richest mines, Santa Gertrudis 
and San Rosario. Of these Santa Gertrudis has paid in 
a brief space thirty-nine dividends of $20,000 each. 


The interior, even of the richest Mexican silver-mine, 
is hardly what the novice might expect. You put a can- 
dle, pasted by a lump of mud, on the top of your hat and 
crawl through all sorts of dark and dripping holes. IS'ow 
and then a guide flashes his light on some black and gray- 


ish discolorations with a look of professional pride, but 
yoa do not exactly fall down in ecstasy over these. There 
are no forks and spoons hanging ready to your hand, no 
presentation plate, nor even ingots. The heaps of ore 
about the shafts do not glitter, and seem good for little 
but to mend the roads. The principal shafts are about 
sixteen feet in diameter, the galleries live by eight, and 
spaced about eighty feet apart. At tlie San Pedro mine 
the pumping-engine was of one hundred and fifty horse- 
power, and another of the same power drew up the mal- 
acate, or skip, full of ore in bags of maguey fibre. In 
some of the old mines, at Guanajuato and San Luis Po- 
tosi, they tell us, peons still tote the ore up the intermi- 
nable ladders on their backs ; but this, I think, must be 
rare. The depth of the Santa Gertrudis is about six hun- 
dred feet. The material is marl, limestone, and quartz, 
all of a soft character and easy to work, but requiring a 
heavy timbering-up. The clothing of the laborers is ran- 
sacked for nuggets by three separate searchers in turn, as 
they emerge from their work. 

There is a Government School of Practical Mining at 
Pachuca, to which students are sent after finishing the 
theoretical course at the Mineria, or school of technology, 
in Mexico. The director, an affable man, showed us the 
process of beneficiating, or extracting the metal from the 
rouofh ore, in miniature. You see the rock first crushed 
and reduced, with water, to a paste, then mingled with 
sulphate of copper, common salt, and quicksilver, which 
get hold of the metal. The quicksilver is afterward with- 
drawn and reserved for continued use. He gave me, also, 
a pamphlet of his on a new form of application of " La 
Accion Mechanica del Yiento" — the mechanical action 
of the wind. A large wind -mill was moving in the 
court-yard made in accordance with his principle, whicli 


substituted large zinc cones for the ordinary sails and 

The extracting processes were more entertainingly seen, 
however, at the beneficiating haciendas themselves. The 
" Loreto " is one of the principal. The ore is crushed 
either by the Cornish stamp, which drops a succession of 
iron-shod beams upon it; the Chilean mill, which grinds 
it by means of superposed revolving stones ; or the ar- 
rastra. The last is the most primitive, cheapest, and still 
most in use. The crushing is done by common stones, 
hung to the arms of a horizontal cross, dragged round and 
round in a circular bed by mule-power. 

Then follows the making of tortus, " the patio system," 
which had its origin here in 1557. I^umerous large mud- 
pies of the powdered ore and water are laid out on a vast 
open court floored with wood. The chemicals mentioned 
are thrown in in successive stages, and troops of broken- 
down horses are driven around in the mass for from two 
to three weeks in succession, thoroughly mingling it to- 
gether. It is then brought in wheel-barrow loads to wash- 
ing-tanks, where men and boys puddle it bare-legged till 
the metal falls to the bottom and the detritus runs away. 
"Eebellious" ores are treated by first calcining, then sep- 
arating with mercury by " the barrel process." This last 
is done chiefly at the hacienda of Yelasco, on the way to 

Of the two hundred and sixty-seven mines in the dis- 
trict, seven are worked by the Real del Monte Company. 
The paying mines are comparatively new, discovered 
within the last twenty or thirty years. The old Spanish 
mines do not pay, and are, in fact, little worked. The 
stories of old Spanish mines, abandoned, perforce, at the 
date of the Independence, and ready to yield splendid 
returns to whoever will reopen them, serves very well as 


romance; but it must be remembered that sixty years 
have elapsed since the Independence, and there have been 
plenty of prospectors with a shrewd eye for gain in the 
country in the mean time. The Mexicans themselves are 
good miners. It will not do to look on w^ith amused con- 
tempt even where very primitive processes are largely 
retained, for these are often better adapted to the pecul- 
iar conditions than any others. Thus the puddling of 
the toi'tas by mules and human legs, with labor at but 
thirty cents a day, is deliberately preferred to machinery. 

Whoever might care to make purchases in such a place 
would do well to buy among the newly discovered mines. 
Or one may yet prospect for himself, for the district ap- 
pears by no means exhausted. Robbers in the state of 
Hidalgo long served as an impediment to freedom of 
prospecting in out-of-the-way places, and it is only of late 
that their power has been broken. The last Governor 
is said to have shot three hundred of them. Wild-cat 
properties and pitfalls of the usual sort await the un- 
wary here. That perversity which, by some natural law, 
seems to take hold upon dealers in mines as well as in 
horses possesses them in Mexico not less than elsewhere. 

The Mexican mine is divided into twenty-four imagi- 
nary equal parts, harras, and fractional parts of these are 
bought and sold as its stock. 


As to the mining laws of the country, I have heard 
them described by some Americans as better than our 
own. In certain respects this is true. The reprehensi- 
ble looseness wdth which our American " district record- 
ers" receive conflicting claims covering the same property 
many tinies over is unknown. An official goes to the 


field and settles the equity of the case at once, and never 
records but one title. Litigation about the original title 
of a Mexican mine is almost unknown, while that of an 
American mine of any value is invariably in litigation. 

On the other hand, there are some drawbacks. AVhile 
a foreigner may hold property in mines in Mexico with- 
out being subject to the obligation of residence, as in re- 
spect to other real estate, provided he have a resident 
partner, nobody in Mexico, foreigner or otherwise, can 
acquire a mine outright and in absolute ownership. He 
cannot own it in fee, no matter what sum he pays for it. 
The legal theory is that the title to a mine is only that 
of ^'conditional possession," and in the nature of usu- 
fruct, which is " the right of using and enjoying a thing 
of which the owner is another." On violation of the 
conditions the title reverts to the sovereignty — formerly 
the King of Spain, now the Republic of Mexico. The 
body of the Ordinances as at present followed was pro- 
mulgated by the King of Spain in the year 1783. To 
allow a mine to stand idle is assumed to be an injury to 
those who might otlierwise work and extract profit from 
it. It is enacted, therefore, as follows : 

"I (the King) order and command that any one who 
shall for four consecutive months fail to work a mine, 
with four operatives, regularly employed, and occupied 
in some interior or exterior work of real utility and ad- 
vantage, shall thereby forfeit the right which he may 
have to the mine, and it shall belong to the denouncer 
who proves its desertion." 

The method of acquiring title to a new and original 
mine is to go before the proper officer in the district 
in which it has been discovered and register a claim. 
Ninety days is then allowed to any other persons who 
may advance pretensions to it also, to appear, after which 


it is coniirnied to him whose case is best establislied. 
Abandoned and forfeited properties are "denounced'' 
bj a similar formality. Yeins or mines may be de- 
nounced not only on common lands, but those of any 
private individual, on paying for the surface occupied. 
In order, however, to obviate malicious or idle destruc- 
tion, the searcher may be made to give security, before 
beginning his trial, for any damage he may occasion to 
the owner of the ground. Sites and waters for reduc- 
ing works are included in the same permission. 

The denouncer must take possession and begin the 
prescribed work within sixty days. The discoverer may 
have three pertenencias, or claims, continuous or inter- 
rupted, on any principal vein which is absolutely new. 
The pertenencia consists of two hundred metres along 
the line of the vein and one hundred on each side (or as 
the miner may desire), as measured on a level. A per- 
son, not the discoverer, can denounce two contiguous 
mines, on the same vein, but one may acquire as many 
others as he likes by purchase. 

The ancient code created a General Tribunal of Min- 
ing for New Spain, and gave it cognizance of all mining 
matters. It was composed of a President, Director-gen- 
eral, and three Deputies- general, elected by the Reales^ 
or mining districts, and two Deputies besides, elected by 
each Real. The Real had to be a place containing a 
church, six mines, and four reducing establishments, in 
actual operation. The qualifications for holding otiice 
were, that one should have been engaged in practical 
mining for ten years, that he should be an American, or 
European Spaniard, free from all inferior blood, and that 
he should agree to "defend the mystery of the Immacu- 
late Conception of Our Lady." 

It would seem that offices were not always in as active 


demand as in our days, for heavy lines are enacted for 
non-acceptance on election, besides being compelled to 
serve afterward. An honest and straightforward purpose 
appears in the rules of procedure quite worthy of imita- 
tion elsewhere. Let us cite some examples. 

"As said classes of causes and suits," says the King, 
" ought to be determined between tlie parties briefly and 
summarily, according to manifest truth and good faith, 
as in commercial transactions, without allowing delays, 
declarations, or writings of lawyers, it is my wdll that 
whenever any persons appear in said Royal Tribunals . . . 
to institute any action, they (the tribunals) shall not ad- 
mit any complaint or petition in writing until after they 
have cited the parties before them, if it be possible, so 
that, hearing orally their complaints and answers, they 
may settle with the greatest despatch the suits or dispute 
between them ; and not being able to succeed in this, and 
the matter in question exceeding the value of two hun- 
dred dollars, petitions in writing will be admitted, pro- 
vided they be not drawn up, arranged, or signed by law^- 
yers. ... In the judgments which may be pronounced no 
consideration shall be paid to any default in observing 
the minute formalities of the law, or to inaccuracies or 
other defects ; but, in whatever stage of the proceedings 
the truth may be ascertained, the causes shall be decided 
and adjudged." 

The legal fraternity had secured a repute for some- 
times misleading justice, it is seen, even so far back as 
this. There appears to have been a Consulaclo^ or Tri- 
bunal of Commerce, upon pretty much the same plan. 
This ancient system has been swept away by various 
stages. Since the day of the republic the powder once 
vested in the old tribunal has been lodged with the ordi- 
nary civil courts and political authorities. 


It is doubtful whether mining has ever been pursued 
to better advantage, made more productive and regular, 
and more effectively freed from the element of wild-cat 
speculation, than in New Spain of the period considered. 

There were decrees to prevent miners, especially those 
of affluence, from wasting their substance. Negligence in 
tunnelling, imperfect ventilation, and the like, by which 
lifeund health are endangered, were severely punished. 

Criminals and vagabonds were made to labor in the 
mines, but the main bulk of laborers in early times con- 
sisted of the Indians, apportioned to proprietors as repar- 
tamientos, and held in a kind of slavery. 


The gorgeous Count of Regla was a great mine-owner 
here in his day. It was hence that he would have taken 
the ingots for the King of Spain to ride upon from the 
coast to the capital, should they have been called for by 
an actual acceptance of his splendid invitation before 

His ancient beneficiating hacienda of Regla, say eigh- 
teen miles from Pachuca, is of great interest. A most 
excellent wagon-road, constructed by the Real del Monte 
Company, at large expense, leads to it. As many as 
eighty heavily loaded ore -wagons, each drawn by from 
eight to a dozen mules, traverse it in a single day. 

Seiior Llandero y Cos kindly provided us, for this and 
the remaining part of our expedition, with horses and a 
mozo, to be kept at our convenience. White posts of 
substantial masonry dotted the abrupt slopes, by way of 
locating tlie various claims. Some lonesome -looking 
wooden structures, not unlike Swiss chalets, generally 
marked the shafts of the smaller mines as we went on- 


ward, while a small arrastra or two was turned by mule- 
power in the neighborhood. Oiie, called the Fortune, if 
what was said were true, should rather have been the 
Misfortune or the Ill-fortune, for it had never produced 
a tlaco of profit. 

Convolvuli and fragrant flor de San Juan touched 
with a trace of beauty the sterile hills. Real del Monte, 
embowered in rich woods, presented a scene like a fine 
landscape in Pennsylvania. We stopped first at the old 
Presidio^ above the Tereros Mine, where the convicts 
drafted for mining labor w^ere formerly kept; then dis- 
mounted and went down a ravine, to see the mouth of a 
tunnel, seven thousand yards in length, built to drain the 
works of the original Real del Monte Company. 

Hamlets were set near together along the road, and the 
country continued bold and generously v/ooded. At the 
abandoned Moran Mine, one of the Count of Regla's prin- 
cipal treasure-stores in its time, we found picturesque re- 
mains of walls and columns, with a round tower, which 
had once contained a hoisting drum. It was obliged to 
be abandoned, like the Sanchez, in the vicinity, for lack 
of water. Near the Sanchez is the mouth of the gen- 
eral drainage tunnel constructed by the Count. Esteemed 
very important in its day, it has been wholly eclipsed by 
works on a larger scale prevailing in the mean time. 
Velasco, where " rebellious " ores are treated, is presided 
over by an English superintendent. He had in use a 
crushing-machine of still a different pattern from those 
described. Heavy iron rockers, driven by steam-power, 
were worked back and forth upon the ore in a bath of 
water. It was claimed that one-fourth more work could 
be done with this at an equal expenditure of power than 
by the Chilean mill. Attached to the establishment in 
the usual way were a charming villa and gardens. The 


superintendent at Pachnca sometimes came there to pass 
a fortnight's vacation. 

The immediate approach to Regla is along the side 
of a deep tropical barranca. Bananas grow generously 
within it, and a palm-thatched Indian village crowns its 
opposite YQYgQ. The hacienda itself is set down in a 
most impressive natural formation. It is encompassed 
by grand columniated cliifs of basalt, like those of the 
Giant's Causeway. The columns are hexagonal in shape, 
w^ith an average diameter approaching three feet. At 
places whole areas of them have been distorted and 
tw^isted hither and tliither in the cooling, wath a most 
wild and singular effect. 

A cascade like a little Niagara tumbles roaring down 
among them, and furnishes the strong water-power 
for the w^orks. The hacienda belongs to the Real del 
Monte Company, and it is chiefly ores of that company 
which are brought to this strangely atti-active scene to be 
treated. Troops of horses w^ere going round in the usual 
way in a great walled patio, making the tortas. Con- 
nected with this were smelting-furnaces and kindred 
buildings of many sorts. Madame Calderon de la Barca, 
who also visited Regla, found it such a place as might 
have been conjured up by magic, by some giant enchant- 
er, for his own purposes. Mediaeval- looking towers, 
gateways, terraces, a chapel, and prison garnish it. Op- 
posite the chapel is a pretty residence, Moorish in aspect, 
surrounded by vines and flowers. The whole is said to 
have cost some two millions of dollars. 

We spent a night here with the superintendent, Don 
Ramon Torres, a youngish man, w^ho had learned his 
avocation in the mines at Guanajuato. He seemed but 
too delighted, in liis comparative isolation, to entertain 
company and honor the introduction of his chief, Sefior 


Llandero. He dwelt in his talk upon the lack of ambi- 
tion among tlie Indian laborers. He said, among other 
things, that in the Tierra Caliente the women were better 
workers than tlie men. 

superintendent's house at REGLA. 

Onr next stage from here was to be the hacienda of 
Tepenacasco, near Tnlancingo, where Mr. Brocklehurst 
and myself had been invited to visit, in order to witness 
the manner of life on one of the great country estates. 
Eegla is rather famous for thunder-storms, and on the 
day of our departure we had one of the traditional sort. 
Within a few minutes after its commencement the cas- 
cade was blood -red with soil torn out by the swollen 



stream. The storm abated at first, but we encountered 
it in renewed furj on wide green uplands like an Illinois 
prairie, known as the Plains of Mata. As we galloped 
in the midst of it, tlie rain pouring in torrents from our 
rubber blankets, the lightnings {raijos) darted into the 
ground, now on this side, now on that, in a way which 
I can only compare — perhaps too trivially — to spearing 
for olives in a jar with a fork. The rayos are dan- 
gerous in this region, as naturally on open plains every- 
where, and crosses mark places where herdsmen have 
been stricken down among their flocks. One of these 
victims had been found recentl}^, with his animals gath- 
ered around in a circle at close quarters staring at him 
curiously, while he lay stark on his face. 

The rain had its lulls and relapses, and twice in succes- 
sion we took shelter under the sheds of isolated ranchitos 
which we fell in with. We were joined here by an occa- 
sional ploughman, wearing the long cloak of coarse woven 
grass, which diverts the water from the wearer. We were 
joined, too, by all the domestic animals of the neighbor- 
hood. The wait at the last retreat seemed as if it would 
never end. At last a pig ventured fortli, and we said, idly, 
that if he should return we w^ould accept it as an augury 
that the deluge was over and the waters had ceased upon 
the face of the earth. Sure enough, he came back pres- 
ently, munching a green carrot-top ; and, receiving this 
like the olive-branch brought to Noah, we sallied forth. 
Our confidence proved well justified. A lovely prismatic 
bow of promise was presently set in the sky, the clouds 
rolled away, scattering their last lingering drops, the rills 
babbled merrily, and the face of the country sparkled 
with an enchanting freshness. AVe paused again briefly 
at a hacienda which belonged to the Governor of the 
state. The main building was large, plain, and yellow- 



washed, and had before it an enclosed threshing-floor, 
on which grain is tramped out by the feet of horses. A 
young American girl had been employed as governess 
here up to a recent date. 


It was now toward evening. The sunset glowed warm 
upon the little hamlet of x^catlan, through which our road 
was seen winding below. In its midst lay a dismantled 
convent, with belfries still standing, which from a dis- 
tance resembled an English ruined abbey. It was found 
on being reached, however, unlike the latter, to be built 
of bricks and adobe. I had at first taken this for our 
hacienda itself, but the hacienda proved equally attractive 
in a different way. After a couple of miles farther on 
we sent back our horses and guide with a warm missive 
of thanks to their owner, and were hospitably installed at 





With a taste for country life, so novel a domain to 
explore, and constantly agreeable weather, I found a 
week's stay at the hacienda one of the most agreeable of 
experiences. From a distance the extensive habitation 
has a stately air, like some ducal residence. In approach- 
ing it you pass first through fields of maguey and blos- 
soming alfalfa, then by a long stone corral for cattle, 
extensive barracks and huts of laborers, and a pond 
bordered with weeping willows. It is built of rubble- 
masonry and plaster, whitewashed, and consists of a single 
liberal story. The dwelling, with numerous connected 
buildings, makes in all a facade of about six hundred feet. 
A belfry, with two tiers of bronze bells hung in arches, 
sets off the centre. The large windows are defended by 
cage-like iron gratings. A door, flanked by holy-water 
fonts, at the left of that forming the main entrance, 
opens into a family chapel. In a gable above the main 
entrance is inscribed this motto — which has not, however, 
prevented the hacienda from being the scene of more 
than one sack by revolutionary forces : 

'^Eii aqueste destierro y soledad disfruto del tesoro de 
la paz^^ — "In this retirement and solitude I enjoy the 
treasure of peace." 

Immediately in front of the buildings is laid out, after 



a usual custom, a substantially paved and enclosed area, 
semicircular at one end, used as a threshing-floor. Troops 
of running horses are driven around here upon the grain, 
like those in the jxxtio process, only in a very much live- 
lier fashion. The long fagade was made up in part of 
massive trojes, or granaries, comprised under the same 
roof as the house. Each troje has a special name of its 
own inscribed upon it. Tiiere were, for instance, the 
''Troje de la Espigero'' (" Corn in the Ear"), the " Troje 
de la Teja'' (" Tiled Koof ") ; and the " Troje de Limbo " 
and " Troje de Nuestro Senor del PilarP The walls 
of these granaries were of great thickness, in order to 
preserve the contents cool and at an even temperature. 
Heavily buttressed, and with their long lines of piers, a 
yard square, extending down the dim interiors, they are 
more like basilicas of the early Christian era than simple 
barns. The central cluster of buildings alone, not count- 
ing those detached, covers perhaps from four to five 
acres. Mounting to the roof and looking over its ex- 
panse, broken by the openings of numerous courts, you 
seem to be contemplating, as it were, some agricultural 
Louvre or Escorial. Its rear wall is washed by a jpresa^ 
or artificial pond for irrigation, which stretches away like 
a lake. Beyond this rises a charming grassy hill, called 
the Cerro. We climbed the Cerro, and lounged away 
more tlian one afternoon there in sketching, and contem- 
plating the beautiful level valley of Tulancingo, spread 
out below. 

The white hacienda with red roofs lay in front, re- 
flected clearly in its pond. Tulancingo was a white patch 
at a distance, and other white patches nearer by were the 
hamlets of Jaltepec, Amatlan, and Zupitlan — the latter in 
ruins. Straight, lane-like roads led from one to another. 
The mountains on the horizon afforded glimpses of ba- 


saltic cliffs of the same formation as those at Eegla, and 
of the white smoke of charcoal-burners rising from their 
forests. Cattle wandered in line herds in the grassy past- 
ure, each tended by its herdsman and dog. We saw a 
troop of them at twilight come to drink at the pond, and 
the complication of all their moving forms was curiously 
picked out in silhouette against the gleaming brightness 
of the water. 

At evening: there returned to the court-yard of the ha- 
cienda, to disband after their day's labor, sometimes as 
many as forty ploughmen. If it had rained they wore 
their barbaric-looking grass cloaks. They drove yokes 
of oxen and bulls harnessed to the primitive Egyptian 
plough, and carried long goads to prod their animals. 
After them rode in now and then an armed horseman, 
wrapped in his serape, who overlooked and guarded them 
at work. At the same time came troops and droves of 
the other animals needing to be housed : black swine from 
the grassy slopes of tlie Cerro ; mules released from har- 
ness ; young horses and mules not yet put to work; 
milch-cows, and young steers and heifers, each wending 
its way sedately to its own department. 

Most of the cattle, I observed, w^ere hornless. This is 
brought about by a practice of paring the young horns 
when first sprouting. It would seem that this might be 
desirable among ourselves, both on the farm and espe- 
cially in transporting cattle in the cars ordinarily in use. 
Milking-time came only once a day — in the morning — 
and not, as with us, twice. The hind-legs of the cows 
are lassoed together when being milked. The calves of 
tender age are also lassoed to the side of the mother, 
and it is a quaint and amusing sight to see their impa- 
tient demonstrations while awaiting the conclusion of the 




I sat down one day with " Don Eafael," the administra- 
dor, or salaried manager, of the estate, to make a rongh map 
of its general distribution and extent. The property proved 
to be some eighteen miles in length by twelve in its great- 
est wndth, and of very irregular pattern It had no less 
than eleven large presas, formed by dams at convenient 
points for irrigation. The principal dam was a mile in 
length, and by means of it had been formed a lake of two 
miles in its principal dimension. On the borders of this 
stands the fendal-looking ruined hamlet, with church and 
hacienda, of Zupitlan, before mentioned. The bulk of 
the estate w^as in grass, but irregular patches of ground 
had been taken out here and there for various crops, and 
to each was given its special uame. Thus the field of 
San Pablo was devoted to maize and alfalfa ; Las Animas, 
San Antonio the Greater, and San Antonio the Less were 
given up to maize ; Del Monte and San Ignacio el Grande 
to barley. 

The magiieyales, or maguey fields, were of considerable 
extent. The making of the pulque from their product 
w^as confided to a special functionary called the tlachi- 
quero. The heart of the maguey is cut out at a certain 
staofe of its o^row^th and a bowl thus formed, into which a 
quantity of sweet sap continues to run regularly for sev- 
eral months. By the end of that time the plant is dead, 
and is uprooted and replaced by another. The sap is at 
first called agua miel, or honey-w^ater, which it resembles. 
The tlachiquero makes a daily pilgrimage to the fields, 
and draws off the agua miel by means of a bulky siphon 
formed of a gourd. Sometimes he bears simply a bag, 
made of undressed sheepskin, like the wine-skins of Old 
Spain, on his back ; again, he is accompanied by a donkey 
loaded with a number of these skins. He transfers the 
sap to these bags, and returns with it to a department of 



his own, called the Tinecal. There he pours it into shal- 
low vats of undressed skin, where it is allowed to ferment. 
Without describing the process farther in detail, in a fort- 
night it is ready for sale or for home consumption. 

The pasture lields have their distinctive titles also. 
There were, for instance, San Gaetano, San Ysidro, and 
San Dion jsio ; and, again, the corrals of San Eicardo, 
San Gaetano, and Las Palmas, where cattle w^ere enclosed 
at various times. Dairy-farming was the principal indus- 
try of the estate. Its neat cattle numbered seventeen 
hundred head. The pay-roll showed a total for the week 
of eight hundred and fifty men and boys. 

The living apartments of the dwelling were set along 
two sides of an arcaded court-yard, which had a disman- 
tled fountain in the centre. Offices and store-rooms occu- 
pied the other two sides. A department for the butter 
and cheese making had a special court to itself in the 
rear. One of the store-rooms contained an ample supply 
of agricultural implements. Those of the slighter sort, I 
learned, such as ploughs, spades, picks, hammers, and the 
coa^ a peculiar cutting-hoe, are made in the country, 
at Apulco, not far distant, where are also iron - works. 
An iron plough made at Apulco costs $7, while the im- 
ported American plough costs $10. There are wooden 
pitch-forks and spades among the implements. The 
wooden, or Egyptian, plough is much more in use than 
that of iron. It consists simply of a wooden beam shod 
with an iron point, and has an adjustable cross-piece 
for service in case the furrow needs to be made wider. 
The purpose to which it is most applied is that of turn- 
ing shallow furrows between rows of corn, and for this it 
appears well enough adapted. At Pensacola, in the state 
of Puebla, such larger pieces of agricultural machinery as 
reapers, mowers, and separators are manufactured. 



We happened, among other accommodations, in our ex- 
ploration of the corridors, upon a prison, described as for 
use in locking up the refractory peons when they will not 

" Can you do that? Have you, then, such an absolute 
power over them?" I asked our host, in some surprise. 

" Why, no," he replied, in effect, deprecatingly, " I sup- 
pose not; but, you see, now and then it is the only way to 
manage them, and w^e have to. It is not civilizated, that 
people," he continued, in an English which left something 
to be desired, "and we do the best what we can." 

This seems something very like a feudal control on 
the part of the hacendado, but his numerous dependents 
do not seem to complain of it. Cases of protest before 
the magistrates are rarely known, and should they be 
made it is not likely, since the magistrates are friends of 
their masters, and of the same social station, that they 
would meet with any great attention. 

We found this laboring population living in squalid 
stone huts, often six and eight persons in a room. The 
floors were simply the dirt of the ground, and there was 
sometimes not even so much as the usual straw mat to 
sleep or sit upon. We were told here again that the peons 
are avaricious. They are believers in a general way, but 
not greatly given to reh'gion. Few attend the services at 
the chapel, even on Sunday. They summon the priest 
when about to die, but not otherwise. But few of the 
children go to school. As a whole, they seemed about as 
wretched as the poor Irish, except for the advantage over 
the latter in climate. In every interior is seen a woman 
on her knees, rolling or spatting the interminable tortillas. 


The laborers on the pay-roll were of two classes : those 
employed by the week, and those employed by the year. 
The former "found themselves;" the latter were "found" 
by the estate, and paid a certain sum at the end of the 
year. "Wages ran from six cents a day for the boys to 
thirty-seven for the best class of adults. 


The administrador was assisted, in the management of 
the hacienda, by the niayor-domo and the sobre-saliente^ 
who acted as his first and second lieutenants; a caporal^ 
who had general charge of the stock ; and a pastero^ who 
had charge of tlie pastures. The pastero it was who in- 
dicated the condition of the various areas of pasturage, 
that the animals might be moved to one after another of 
them in turn. These minor oflScers were of the native 
Indian race. Thej^ were dark, swarthy men, very bandit- 
looking when armed and mounted on horseback, but in 
reality, when you came to know them, as mild and ami- 
ble persons as need be wished for. 

One, " Don Daniel," supervised the butter and cheese 
making interest. A book-keeper, " Don Angel," kept an 
account of all the property of the estate — receipts, and 
disbursements, and an inventory of stock — upon a system 
which seemed a model of commercial accuracy. Every 
week a report was forwarded to the owners, at Mexico, 
upon a printed blank filled out in the most exhaustive 
detail, so that they could see at a glance how they stood. 

The administrador, Don Rafael, was a steady-going 
man of middle age, a native of San Luis Potosi. He 
had land and casitas, little houses, of his own, which he 
rented. He had also a house in the city of Tulancingo, 
near by, occupied by his family, whom he visited once a 


week. His salary reached about $1000 a year, and he 
conld be called a person of substance. A conspicuous 
scar on his forehead led it to be supposed tliat he might 
have seen service in the field ; but he spoke with con- 
tempt of the wars of his country when questioned about 
it, and said that he had got his scar in breaking a horse. 

"A sensible man can always find better occupation than 
fighting," he said. "1 have busied myself with regular 
industry. The North Americans, now, understand that. 
They have good ideas. There everybody works and gets 
a little ahead in the world. Without money in his pock- 
et Avhat is a man good for? He might as well take him- 
self over to the cemetery yonder at once and have done 
with it." 

Don Angel was young, mild, taciturn, painstaking, and 
a native of Old Spain. His handwriting was small and 
neat, and he had a great head for details. His salary 
was the sum of $400 a year. The revenues of the estate 
which it was his province to cast up amounted, I was 
told, to $20,000 a year. 

Don Daniel, the butter and cheese maker, was young 
also, but large, handsome, rosy, and had excellent teeth, 
with coal-black hair and beard. He was a model of ro- 
bust health and lively spirits. He too had a wife at Tu- 
lancingo, whom he visited every Sunday, returning before 
daylight on Monday morning, to be in time for the milk- 
ing. He was given to strumming on a guitar in the even- 
ing, and assembled around him in his room such conviv- 
ial spirits as the hacienda afforded. Nonsensical refrains 


" Amarillo si, amarillo no, 
Amarillo y verde, me ho pinto," 

were heard proceeding from there long after more staid 
and decorous persons were in bed. 


Another member of the household was, let ns say, 
"Mannel," a boy of eighteen, looking younger, who had 
formerly been a cadet at the national military school. He 
was here learning the business of a hacienda, or, as some 
said, he was a young scapegrace whom it was designed 
to keep out of mischief. At any rate, he was an aide-de- 
camp to Don Rafael, and took his orders about on horse- 
back. He dressed, like Don Rafael, in a substantial suit 
of buff leather. He- was a very garrulous and communi- 
cative person, and, as our attendant and guide — in which 
capacity he offered himself, I think, somewhat as an ex- 
cuse for escaping more onerous labors — he furnished ns 
much useful information. His elders took a tone of rail- 
lery with him, representing him as a very callow youth, 
whose views were of no consequence, and who should 
be seen but not heard from. They ridiculed his French, 
which he had learned at the military school, even affect- 
ing not to believe that it was French at all. Our visit 
was the occasion for a strenuous effort on his part to set 
himself right on this point. 

'' N^ai-je i)as Men cUtf^ he cried to us, across the gen- 
erous dining- table where we sat together, stretching at 
the same time a bony, school-boy arm for aid in putting 
the scoffers down. 

One day we mounted to go to a beautiful clear spring 
of water, which was admired even as early as by Hum- 
boldt in his travels. On others we visited the adjacent 
hamlets, or Tulaneingo, from which, later, we were to 
take the diligence homeward. Again, we made our ob- 
jective points the various crops, a dam undergoing re- 
pairs, or the remoter pastures and corrals. 

The herdsman and a boy-assistant at these corrals slept 
at night in their blankets under a mere pile of stones. 
The upper irrigating dams are discharged of their wa- 


ters, \riien it is desired, by the primitive device of lift- 
ing up one cross-beam after another from a narrow gate 
in the centre. In some of the maize-fields are look-out 
boxes, aloft on high poles, as a device against crows and 
other marauders. The general surface over which we rode 
was the grassy plain, affording a delightful footing for 
the horses. It was of a fresh, soft green, and enamelled 
besides with flowers, like violets, the blue maravilla, and 
many varieties of a yellow flower resembling the dande- 
lion, but prettier. 


The room first entered from the main corridor in the 
house itself was devoted to the uses of a despacho^ or of- 
fice. Here was the department of Don Angel, and the 
master himself sometimes took his place behind the long, 
baize-covered table, strewn with matters of business de- 
tail, to hold audience with the peons of the estate, who 
came, with w^ide- brimmed hats humbly doffed, to make 
known various wants and complaints. In the corners 
stood rifles, spades, and the long branding- iron, which 
is heated in the month of August to brand the young 
cattle with the device of their owner. 

A fat dark peon enters, and proffers a request for an 
allowance to be made him for a baptism in his family. 

"A baptism?" says the master, briskly. "Well, now, 
come on ! Speak up ; don't stand mumbling there ! Let 
us see what your ideas are." 

The man suggests, deferentially, to begin with, the sum 
of $3 for a guajolote, or turkey, as a piece de resistance 
for his feast. 

" You are always wanting a gitajolote^ you people. You 
don't need anything of the kind. However, let us say 
$1.50— twelve reals — for the guajolote. What next ?" 


" The jmlque — about forty cuartillas of pulque.''^ 

" Twenty cuartillas of pulqite^^ says the master, ruth- 
lessly cutting down the estimate by half. "Well, what 
next ? Speak up !" 

The peasant, one of the laborers by the year, perse- 
veres, in his humble, soft voice, regularly making his 
estimate for each article twice the real figure, and having 
it as regularly cut down. He caps the whole by demand- 
ing four reals for a sombrero, w^ell knowing — and know- 
ing perfectly well that his master knows also — that the 
kind of sombrero he would be likely to want costs but 
one real. 

We had proposed to witness the festivities of this christ- 
ening, but unfortunately delayed too long at table on the 
evening of its occurrence, and lost it. But the sky was 
gloriously full of stars as we went out among the huts 
and barracks. A woman came out of one of the tene- 
ments and made a complaint of a neighbor with whom 
she had had a row, but got no great sjMnpathy, and 
hardly seemed to expect any. They are admirably po- 
lite, these poor rustics — nobody can deny them that. As 
we sat by the road one day at Amatlan, sketching, some 
of the women called to us as they went by : 

'' Buenas dias, senores ! Como han pasaclo, ustedes^ 
la noche f Adios, senores H — " Good-day, sirs ! How did 
you pass the night ? Good-bye, sirs !" 

We had not in any way first addressed them, and they 
did not stop, but went swiftly onward, scarcely turning 
their heads to look. These and many more of the sort 
are but their ordinary salutations. 

The immediate family at the hacienda consisted of one 
of the several heirs, " Don Eduardo," his wife, mother, 
and two small children, and their Indian nurses. They 
were in the habit of spending but a small portion of the 


year here, and, when thej came, lived in quite informal 
style. Servants and employes, equally with her inti- 
mates, called the young mistress " Cholita," a diminutive 
of her name Soledad. There was little or no receiving or 
paying of visits, owing to the great distances to be trav- 
ersed and the scarcity of neighbors. 


Social life in the country is hardly known. We had 
piano music and singing in the evening in a stately, dim- 
ly-lighted salon of the style of the First Empire. One 
day a large farm vehicle, gayly decorated with boughs, 
was brought around, all hands got into it, and we pro- 
ceeded to the lake at Zupitlan for a picnic. The provis- 
ions w^ere carried on a litter by a couple of men, and a 
guard on horseback, with his rifle, rode along-side for our 
protection. Such a precaution was not absolutely needed, 
perhaps, but there had been a time — before the Governor 
of Hidalgo had taken his summary measures — when the 
brigands would have swooped down from the adjacent 
hills and seized upon such a procession with little cere- 
mony. After dining al fresco we amused ourselves with 
shooting some of the ducks and cranes which abound on 
the lake. 

We had chocolate and buns on rising in the morning, 
and two over -liberal repasts, resembling each other in 
character, at noon and nine in the evening. The dogs 
swarmed in and out over the house, w4iich presented the 
aspect of a generous farm rather than a villa. 

It was designed in its day for much greater state. The 
furniture, though battered and ruined now, was of the 
charming artistic pattern of the First Empire, and all 
the rooms were large and of fine proportions. In one of 



the two principal bedrooms tlie bed is raised upon a dais, 
ascended by steps. In the other the corners are cut off 
by columns, so as to give it an octagon shape. In three 
of these corners the beds are regularly built in between 
the columns ; the fourth is taken for a door. It so hap- 
pened that I had not read Madame de la Barca before 
leaving home. Perhaps I had but a rather disparaging 


idea of a work descriptive of Mexico coming down no 
later than 1839. On taking it up after my return I bad 
an opportunity to find how little the country had changed. 
She too visited this hacienda of Tepenacasco. She noted, 
among other items, a quaint wall-paper, of a Swiss pat- 
tern, on the octagon room. That very paper is there to 
this day. 

The proprietor was of quite a different sort in those 
times. He used to give bull-fights in the court before 
his portal, which is now a threshing-fioor, and is said to 
have entertained half the population of Tulancingo at 
his table. He finally ruined himself by his extravagance. 
It is said, among other things, that if he took a sudden 
notion to go to Mexico, a hundred and twenty miles 
away, he rode his horses so hard that they sometimes 
dropped dead under him. 





The time came at length — all too soon — for my final 
Mexican journey — to the Pacific coast at Acapulco, where 
I was to take the steamer for San Francisco. 

I was advised not to go to Acapulco. There are always 
persons ready to advise you not to do perfectly feasible 
things. It was now August, and the rainy season had 
begun in town itself. It began one afternoon with a 
rush. I had been reading at the National Library, and, 
coming out at four o'clock, found the streets a couple of 
feet deep in water. The cabs, now at a premium, and 
some few men on horseback, who could give a friend a 
lift, served as impromptu gondolas upon these impromptu 
canals. There were also cargadores^ who, for a medio, 
carried you on their backs from corner to corner. I was 
told that ladies in the balconies, watching the animated 
sight, now and then slyly held up a real, in consideration 
of which the cargodor dropped some gallant in the water, 
presenting a ridiculous sight. Such inundations last sev- 
eral hours before the sluggish sewers can carry off the 
surplus water, and they leave the ground-floor habitations 
of the poor in but a cheerless condition, as may be im- 

If this were to be added to the other embarrassments 
of life every afternoon, it was not interesting to think of 


remaining longer at the capital. And yet, with Macbeth, 
there seemed " nor flying hence, nor tarrying here." The 
journey to Acapulco was represented as very difficult and 
dangerous. The route was a mere trail or foot-path, a 
huen camino de pajaros — a good road for bii'ds. No 
wheeled vehicle ever had passed or ever could pass over 
it. All this was, indeed, tlie case. Three large rivers 
were to be crossed, and these unbridged. 

^' Suppose," said the advisers, putting the case in that 
bold and alarming way in w^iich advisers delight, " tliat 
these should be swollen by the floods, as is naturally to 
be expected now in the rainy season. You would then 
be delayed so long on their banks as to miss your steam- 
er, which touches at Acapulco only once a fortnight. 
Again, the road lies, for days at a time, in ravines and 
the beds of streams ; but when the waters occupy their 
channels what room is there for travellers V 

If to this were added the natural reflections of the nov- 
ice on the score of danger to property and person in en- 
tering upon so wild a section, the prospect was not at all 
a pleasing one. Nevertheless it would be almost too much 
to expect that a person bound for California should come 
back to the United States again in order to go there, and 
I had a firm conviction that the Acapulco trip could be 


I had negotiated a little already with an arriero, or 
muleteer, named Yincente Lopez, in a street called Parque 
del Conde. He would furnish a horse to ride, and a 
mule to transport my baggage, each for $20 — all other 
expenses to be defrayed personally along the way — which 
makes the three hundred miles come a good deal higher 
than so much railway travel. I had thus dallied with 


the idea, and my decision was precipitated by the sud- 
den coming down of the rain. I hurried to Parque del 
Conde Street, and closed with Yincente Lopez. I was 
glad to learn from him that lie had also another pa- 
tron who was going, in the person of a colonel of tlie 
army. The journey, under tlie most favorable auspices, 
consumes ten days on horseback, besides the day occupied 
in going down by stage-coach to the provincial city of Cu- 
ernavaca, wliere the bridle-path begins. Considering all 
the circumstances as stated, there were many companions 
one would much less prefer to have than so presumably 
bold and well-informed a person as a Mexican regular 

He proved to be a veritable military man, a colonel 
who had seen twenty years' service in different wars of 
his country, and bore bullet-holes in his body as the re- 
sult of them. He had begun in the War of the Eeform, 
which overtlirew the Church and aristocratic party ; he 
had fought against the French and Maximilian in the 
second War of Independence ; and, lastly, for the govern- 
ment of Lerdo against Porfirio Diaz. To the party of 
the latter he was, however, now reconciled, and he was go- 
ing to take a command on the disturbed northern frontier. 
If more were needed, he had lately fought a duel, as he 
told me, in which the weapons were sabres, and had so 
slashed his opponent, a brother officer, that the latter was 
laid up in a grievous state at the hospital. A vacant bar- 
racks had been set apart, by the War Department, for this 
proceeding. Army duelling, as on the Continent, is con- 
nived at. The case seems to be that, if you fight, you are 
afterward reprimanded ; but if you do not, you are likely 
to be cashiered as pusillanimous. 

Not that the colonel was in all respects the most agree- 
able of travelling companions. He was much wrapped 



lip in his own affairs at first, and later displayed some 
traits of a certain cliildish selfishness. 

Yincente Lopez collected our baggage at the appointed 
time. He was a plausible person, and when he desired 
the full amount of his bill in advance I had well-nigh 
yielded to him. I submitted, however, as more equitable, 
that one-half should be paid down and the remainder on 
the completion of the journey according to contract. 

" That would be equitable, indeed, for ordinary cwie- 
ros,"^^ said Yincente Lopez, " but I am one of especial 
probity. It is my habit to watch over the persons who 
confide themselves to my care with a tender solicitude, 
and in the present instance I have intended to multiply 
even my usual pains. I am one of those who have never 
known what it is to encounter on the w^ay the slightest 
delay or annoyance." 

He seemed wounded in his finest sensibilities by an ap- 
pearance of mistrust, which was to him hitherto unknown. 
There w^ere considerations in his favor. He said that the 
colonel, at another hotel, had paid the full sum in ad- 
vance, and this proved true. Whatever money Avas to be 
taken, besides, must be in the heavy silver coinage of the 
country, $16 to the pound, and to be rid of the weight 
and jingling of even a part of it was desirable. Still, 
on the whole, the contract was drawn in my way, by 
the advice of the dark secretary of the Iturbide Hotel. 
Though it seemed almost cruel at the time to act in 
this formal manner with so good a man, the precaution 
proved in the sequel to be very useful. 


My colonel was accompanied down to Cuernavaca in 
the diligencia — in which we were all extremely jolted. 



dusty, and uncomfortable togetlier — by two generals. 
They had apparently come to give him parting directions 
about his mission. One of tliem was a thick-set, black- 
bearded man, with a husky voice, and a conspicuous scar 
upon his face. I must not branch off too much into side 
issues, but the history of the scar was that, while com- 
manding in Yucatan, he had ordered to be shot, on some 
of the ordinary revolutionary pretexts, a member of the 
powerful family of Gutierrez Estrada, a family with com- 
mercial houses in Paris, Mexico, and Merida, and noted, 
among other things, for the beauty and intelligence of its 
women. A brother of the victim came over from Paris 
as an avenger, sought out the general in question, met 
him in a duel, and left this mark, which, at the time of 
its infliction, brought the recipient to death's door. 

The city of Mexico is some 7500 feet above the sea, 
and, having come up, we now followed a great downward 
slope. It abounds in bold points of view, from which the 
prospects spread vision-like at vast distances below. Cu- 
ernavaca presents one of the most thrilling of these. 
What is yonder singular detail in the valley ? A haci- 
enda set in the open side of an extinct volcanic crater, 
of which the whole interior has been brought under smil- 
ing cultivation. And yonder yellowish spot? The sugar- 
cane fields of the Duke of Monteleone. He is an Italian 
nobleman of Naples, who inherits, by right of descent, a 
part of the estates reserved here for himself by Cortez. 
The Conqueror was made "Marquis of the Yalley," with 
his port at Tehuantepec, and an estate comprising twenty 
large towns and villages, and 23,000 vassals. 

Nowhere is there a quainter group of old rococo 
churches than that in this solid little city. They have 
flying buttresses, of two arches in width, descending 
quite to the ground, domes, and other inlay in colored 


porcelain tiles; and tliej are all clustered together, with 
tombs and a battlemented wall about them. A student 
of architecture coming this w^ay w^ith his sketch-book 
in his hand could find material here for a month. I am 
not sure that the trip could not be made enjoyably, as it 
certainly could economically, on foot, with an attendant 
to carry a knapsack, as we met some German naturalists 
and prospectors making it farther on. Close by is a gar- 
den on a great scale — the Jardin Borda — to wdiich one 
obtains admittance for a fee. It has a stone fish-pond as 
large as a lake, terraces, urns, and statues worthy of the 
most luxurious prince in Europe. I was told that it 
could be bought for $5000. I asked the custodian about 
the owner — what he had been remarkable for. 

"He had altos pesos ^^"^ replied the man, which is Span- 
ish for "a pile of money." Bushels of delicious man- 
goes were rotting untouched along the walks. From 
the outer terrace you look down into the barranca which 
Alv^arado crossed by a fallen tree w^hen sent by his inde- 
fatigable general against the disaffected Gonzalo Pizarro. 
Here are guava, mango, pine-apple, banana, and plenty of 
other fruits, but not yet the cocoa-nut, which only flour- 
ishes lower down. 

Behold us ready to set forth on the trail ! Yincente 
Lopez is not present, strange to say, to cast about us the 
fostering care he has promised. On the contrary, he has 
quietly sold out his contract and gone back to the Parque 
del Conde with his profits. We are in the hands of a 
new muleteer, "Don Marcos," who has never made the 
journey to Acapulco before, and a fourteen-year-old boy, 
"Yincente," who is depended upon to find the way. 
Every cavalcade in Mexico is bizarre, and ours, ordinary 
enough there, would attract attention elsewhere. First, 
upon the mule "Yenado" rides the colonel, a tall, spare 


man, in militai^ boots, wide liat with silver braid, and a 
linen blouse, through which project the handles of huge 
revolvers. He is aiming, not at display, but comfort. Of 
myself I shall say nothing. It is a privilege of the narra- 
tor to let it be supposed that he is always gallant and im- 
posing in appearance, and exactly adapted to the circum- 
stances of the case. I rode the rather large bay hoi'se 
"Pajaro." Don Marcos, a deprecating, tricky person, 
with a purpose, soon evident, of making up from us his 
bad bargain, wore a crimson poncho and cotton drawers, 
and bestrode the small white horse "Palomito" ("Little 
Dove"). Thus appreciatively had he thought fit to name 
all the animals, though he had but on the instant come 
into possession of them. The trunks, first securely sewn 
np in cocoa-mats, were tied, the colonel's upon the back 
of the mule "Nina," and mine upon "Aceituna." Yin- 
cente, the boy, ran barefoot most of the way to Acapulco 
behind the mules, crying, '•^ Eh! machos P'' and cracking 
at them with a combination w^hip and blinder. With this 
same blinder their eyes were covered while their loads 
were being put on and taken off, at morning, noon, and 

There was a bit of wagon-road at first, as there is out- 
side of each of the more important places along the way. 
This soon merged in the trail, which was of increasing 
wildness. The huts and hamlets we fell in with were 
of cane, well thatched. There were fields of cane, 
trains of mules laden with sugar-loaves, and an occasional 
stately sugar hacienda. Xow and then there were the re- 
mains of one ruined in the wars. At noon the mules 
were unpacked at some favorable point, and the expedi- 
tion rested for several hours. It was the custom to take 
a siesta during the extreme heat of the day. At night 
there were occasional mesons^ or rude inns, but generally 


our stopping-place was such accommodation as could be 
offered by the inhabitants of the villages. The baggage 
was piled up under a thatched pavilion. Beds, consisting 
of mats of stiff canes resting upon trestles, were arranged 
for us along-side, or in open piazzas. These, in the warm 
nights, were more agreeable than might be supposed. A 
la guerre comme a la guerre! Sleeping almost under the 
helle etoile, 3^ou could study the constellations, the out- 
lines of strange, dark hills, your own thoughts, and hear 
the dogs bark, down at remote Sacocoyuca, Kincon, and 
Dos Arroyos, and there was not a little pleasant novelty 
in the situation. At the gray of dawn we were off. 

The people, all of Aztec blood, were gentle with us, 
honest, and not much less comfortable in their circum- 
stances than farmers newly established at the West. 
The predicted difficulties of the undertaking largely 
melted away. It rained chiefly at night ; there were but 
one or two showers in the daytime, though of these one 
was very hard. The food obtained along the way was of 
rustic quality, and occasionally scanty, but, or the other 
hand, it was often excellent. Chickens were generally to 
be had, with fried bananas as the most frequent vegeta- 
ble accompaniment. The national dish of frijoles (black 
beans) was always palatable. There was milk in the 
morning, but not at night, the cows being milked but 
once a day. We foraged more or less for ourselves. 
The colonel would demand a couple of eggs under the 
off-hand formula of U7i par de Uayiquillos, which can 
hardly be translated, but is as much as to say, "A pair of 
little white 'uns." He declared it " a miserable popula- 
tion " where they were not to be had. 

On the very first day out Don ]\rarcos came to say that 
he had no money with which to buy feed for the ani- 
mals. It was with the reserve I had retained, doled out 


little by little, that this necessary purposjp was thereafter 
accomplished, and the arriero perhaps kept from leaving 
ns in the lurch. 

It was a jpropos of this Incident that my fii-st glimpse 
into the peculiar nature and inclinations of the colonel 
was obtained. It was now evident that it would have 
been better not to have paid tlie man in advance. But 
the colonel refused either to regret that he had done so 
or to regard it as a lesson for the future. 

" I am a philosopher," he said. " The philosopher 
makes no account of such things." 

These views he professed also on other occasions, and 
seemed, with a bravado of stoicism, almost to go in search 
of inconveniences. 

" But is it not rather philosophy," I argued, " to avoid 
such inconveniences as one can by a little exercise of 
forethought, and then endure the inevitable with equa- 
nimity ?" 

"No; tiiat is the civilian's, not the soldier's, point of 
view," he persisted, with obstinacy. 


This route, probably no better, and certainly no worse, 
w^as travelled, as now, nearly a hundred years before the 
Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Pock. It was the sole 
highway between Acapulco, the only really excellent 
port on the Pacific Coast, and the capital. It has seen 
the transit of convoys of treasure, slaves, silks, and spices 
from the Indies, bound in part for Old Spain. A reg- 
ular galleon used to sail from Acapulco for supplies of 
Oriental goods. It has seen the march of royalist troops, 
under the sixty-four viceroys, and of many a wild insur- 
gent troop. Morelos operated here, with his bandit hand- 


kerchief round his head, and kept the district clear of 
Spaniards down to the sea at Acapulco. By one of the 
rivers still lies the massive stone-work for a bridge, the 
construction of which was abandoned in the War of In- 
dependence, seventy years ago. 

Most momentous of all the processions it has seen, 
however, must be counted that of Iturbide, who returned 
along it, with his new^ tri-colored flag of the three guar- 
antees — Religion, Union, and Independence — to the cap- 
ital, to make himself, for a brief season, Emperor. This 
brilliant figure, of such an ignominious end, is still great- 
ly honored in Mexico, and there is something rather typ- 
ical of Mexico, or of Spanish America generally, in his 
history. Taking the position which would have been 
that of a Tory here, he fought against the earlier insur- 
rection of his country, from its outbreak, in 1808, till 
1820. Sent in command of an army against the rebel 
chief Guerrero in the latter year, he united with instead 
of attacking him, seized a convoy of treasure to serve as 
sinews of war, and drew up at Iguala — a charming little 
city on the route — a plan of independence of his own. 
The Yiceroy, in despair, tried to buy him back w-ith 
promises of pardon, money, and higher command, but 
without success. He made a triumphal entry into the 
capital in September, 1821. In May of the following year 
a sedition, which he had without doubt artfully set on foot, 
roused him at his hotel at night, wath a clamor that he 
should become Emperor. He appeared upon his balcony 
and affected to reluctantly consent to the popular will. 

He modelled himself after Napoleon, nearly his con- 
temporary. There is a portrait of him at the National 
Palace, in the same gorgeous coronation robes affected by 
the latter, though in his own w^hiskered countenance he 
is more like the English Prince Eegent of the same date. 



In August he imprisoned some Deputies, and in October, 
still following his illustrious prototype, put his trouble- 
some Congress out-of-doors. But in October also the 
country rose against him, and he was obliged to leave it 
and take refuge in England. He returned again in July 
of the next year — another J^apoleon from Elba ; but, in- 
stead of sweeping the country with enthusiasm, he was 
seized upon landing, and ordered to prepare for death 
within two hours. Four days of grace were finally given 
him, and then he was shot. 

Iturbide was a person of a highly politic turn, as has 
been seen. A thorough devotee of expediency, he main- 
tained (and there was not a little truth in this) that a peo- 
ple made up so largely of Indian serfs suddenly released 
from tyranny was not ready for self-government. He 
said that he had meant the Empire to be only temporary. 
He had shown no personal valor in the service of his 
country, as there had been no occasion for it ; all his act- 
ual fighting had been against it. Yet he is commemo- 
rated in the national anthem,"^ and a certain hold, in the 
Napoleonic way, which he had upon the popular imagina- 
tion, was relied upon by the French when they endeav- 
ored to establish Maximilian in Mexico. A o^randson of 
Iturbide still lives who was adopted by Maximilian, in 
order to give his dynasty a"more indigenous effect, and 
made heir to the succession. The boy's mother, who at 
first acquiesced in the usurping order of things, later 
repented, and endeavored to get him away. This was 
finally effected through the mediations of Secretary Sew- 
ard and Mr. John Bigelow, then Minister to France. 

* " Si a lo lid contra hueste enemiga 
Nos convoca la trompa guerrera, 
De Iturbide la sacra bandera, 
Mexicanos valientes, seguid !" 




Itcebide was the subject of confab between the 
colonel and myself as we jogged along the way ; and 
this led naturally up to Maximilian. My companion 
had served under Escobedo in the campaign in which 
Maximilian was overthrown, and had witnessed his exe- 
cution at the tragic Cerro de las Campanas. 

"He died like a true soldier," said the colonel. "He 
was not afraid ; though he deserved his fate, and I would 
not have had it otherwise." 

It seems to be the general verdict that this ill-starred 
ruler w^as not without the physical fortitude which is es- 
teemed a part of the heritage of princes. But he was 
better fitted for many other things than the task of fast- 
ening a monarchy upon belligerent Mexico. I drew the 
conversation, when an opening appeared, to the present 
novel relations of Mexico with our own country. 

" Had I the authority," said the colonel, frankly, " I 
would never have granted the railroad charters which are 
making this great bustle. I fear the aggressions of the 
Americans. The conservative Mexican policy is to grant 
you such privileges only when they are balanced by others 
to Europeans. This was the consistent policy of Juarez 
and Lerdo. It was Portirio Diaz, during his presidency, 
who first broke it down and brought this invasion upon us." 


"• We, on tlie contrary, incline to make it one of his 
merits," I said — "a proof of his superior enlightenment. 
He stepped over the boundaries of narrow prejudice and 
jealousy, and allowed a beginning to be made of develop- 
ing the country by those who were ready to do it, with- 
out waiting farther for those who would not." 

^' His enemies say he was bought," rejoined the colonel, 
who had evidently no great love for Porfirio. " He has 
not been wholly above corruption in his time. He made 
fabulous sums out of the liquidation of the military ar- 
rears, for instance. He paid a million dollars for his 
magnificent hacienda in the state of Oaxaca. Where 
did that come from ? That is a great weakness among 
us for official corruption. There are too many examples 
of it. A defaulting person in a high place is rarely pun- 
ished. When I see a case of that kind treated with se- 
verity I shall begin to conceive new hopes." 

"But," I argued, "the Americans certainly have no 
other designs than that of commercial profit. They do 
not want your country. What Americans have anything 
to gain by taking it ? Who would put his hand in his 
pocket to pay the expenses of a war of annexation ? We 
look out for ourselves as individuals, and we fail to see 
where the profit comes in. We are large enough now 
to gratify our own vanity on that score. Love of glory 
and territorial aggrandizement is not one of our national 
traits. Spoliation might rather be feared at the hands 
of some ambitious prince, if you had any such for a 
neighbor, who could turn it to personal account." 

"You will not annex us with bayonets," he returned; 
"you will annex us with dollars. I feel it; I know it. 
Your great commercial enterprises will insensibly get 
hold of the vitals of our country, and the rest will follow. 
Perhaps there may be disturbances, and your government 


called in to protect the property of investors. Tliere will 
naturally be sympathy for thein at home, and they will 
move heaven and earth rather than lose. A thousand 
times better that our country were not developed at all 
than at such a price." 

As I still insisted upon the unreasonableness of this 
notion, the colonel continued: "Even granting that you 
are sincere in what you say of the wishes of your people, 
I feel that it is the manifest destiny of Mexico to be taken 
by the United States. In former times the Latin races 
ruled the world, but in this and the coming ages the Sax- 
on race will do it. You are a strong, commercial people, 
and cotrimerce is the breath of the nostrils of modern 
civilization. Look at what you have done in California 
since it ceased to be a Spanish province. I have been at 
San Francisco — a great, splendid city ; I looked upon it 
w^ith amazement. ' This was once Mexican,' I said to 
myself. 'Ah, what a different genius from that of Mex- 
ico !' Yes, you will get us. It will be the amelioration 
of many abuses, and our greater prosperity, without 
doubt; but I hope I shall never live to see the day. As 
a patriot, as a soldier, I would give my life fifty times 
over rather than consent to it.'^ 

"But, since you concede such benefits as probable," I 
ventured to say, " what is this patriotism upon which you 
so strongly insist? We do not want you, and have no 
designs upon you, but — purely for the sake of argument, 
and talking as enlightened persons — is it not rather fan- 
tastic ? Is a boundary-line such an object in itself? May 
not a good deal that has stood for patriotism in the past 
be a mere provincial narrowness ? Supposing that Mex- 
ico, or Canada, without force, but in its own judgment of 
what w^as for the good of its people, should desire to be- 
come a part of the Union, maintaining its organization in 


states and its local self-government as now, and merely 
sending delegates to Washington to represent it in na- 
tional affairs, would you, as a Mexican citizen, feel bound 
to resist, as if it were the consummation of something 
scandalous and recreant? Is not the enjoyment of life, 
liberty, and the pursuit of happiness to the greatest ad- 
vantage, the object of a rational being? Is there any 
virtue in an essential Mexicanism, Americanism, or An- 
glicism, that it should be preserved at all hazards? 

And, having asked many such-like questions, I endeav- 
ored, farther, to explain a view that we may be all ap- 
proaching a great cosmopolitan period, when we shall be 
members of a republic of nations, and foreigners, as 
such, shall nowhere any longer be either dreaded or de- 

" That is all very well," said the colonel, stubbornly, 
" since the advantage is to fall on your side ; but I tell 
you I would give my heart's blood rather than see it." 

As to the value of his prognostication I have no opin- 
ion ; but this seriousness of conviction about the plans of 
the Americans from such a source was full of interest. 
It is held by the bulk of the Mexican people, and it 
means trouble ahead for the enterprises, since it must 
increase with their very success. 

" Has any party ever been heard of, with you, in favor 
of annexation ?" I went on to ask. 

" There is no such party," he replied. " There are 
none who could favor it — unless, singularly enough, it 
might be the Church party. Protestant country though 
you are, with you they could enjoy a greater freedom 
than here. Since their suppression under the War of the 
Reform there can be no convents, religious orders, nor 
monastic schools ; but in the United States, I understand, 
they could have as many as they wished." 


The colonel was rather fond, as stated, of dwellino^ 
upon the soldier's point of view. One day, when he had 
been writing, as he said, to his mother, he declared, in a 
gloomy mood, not without its pathos: "That is the only 
tie that binds me to life. At forty-four, as you see me, 
I have passed through many disappointments and cha- 
grins. I have little pleasure in the present and no great 
hopes for the future. Well, that is a proper state of mind 
for the soldier. 

" The soldier," he went on to say, " should be one who 
either sets little value upon life, and looks to death as a 
release, or one having a supreme sense of honor, of pride 
in his profession, and duty to his government. He makes 
a contract, as it were, with authority. He is well paid and 
highly considered ; in return, he must be ready to spill 
his blood whenever his employer demands it." 


The display of childish selfishness on my companion's 
part to which I have adverted consisted in getting up 
one morning and riding off on my horse, without saying 
so much as "By your leave." He had cast eyes on it as 
we went along, judged it to be on the whole preferable 
to his mule, and in this direct way took possession. The 
matter was adjusted, but not till it had assumed at one 
time an almost international aspect. It was in the cool- 
ness resulting from this incident that I rode on alone 
and first saw I^-uala. 

The expedition had stopped, after its usual day's march, 
before sunset, at the tropical hamlet of Platanillo. I 
was anxious, however, to pass the night instead in the 
notable city named. The twilight shuts down very rap- 
idly here, and from the estimates of casual informants I 


liad miscalculated the distance. ''^ Adelantito^ senor^^ 
they said, after the inaccurate way of such informants — 
" Just a little way ahead ;" "J_m hajito^ no mas^^ — " Eight 
down there ; a mere trifle, that is all." I had a distant 
glimpse or two of it from the pass, while the sun glowed 
like a beacon-fire on the crests of vast mountains encom- 
passing its little valley. A small lake sparkled in its vi- 
cinity, and plantations of cane near it showed a brighter 
green. Of the town itself, which might have been a 
mammoth hacienda, only a dome and a few white spots 
appeared out of the midst of a quadrangle of foliage 
marked off on all sides to an even line. Then night 
came on, a dark and cloudy one, though w^ithout rain. 
My horse slipped with me on the steep over rolling 
stones. It was no longer safe to ride after that, and I 
led him most of the way, picking out the path in the 
dark. The view had been very deceptive, and we had 
many miles to go. 

Lonely gulches, brooks, and bits of wood were passed. 
Cows had gone to sleep in upland pastures, and one occa- 
sionally loomed up, a mysterious shape, in the path and 
took herself out of the way. The rays of a clouded moon 
gleamed now and then on a white patch of the lake, but 
the city seemed to have vanished out of existence. At 
last, however, a dim light in a dome, then a barking of 
dogs, and audible human voices. All this time there had 
been neither house nor hut. It was after nine o'clock. 
I came close up to one of the formal lines of trees, 
opened a gate in it, and was in the midst of Iguala. 

I do not know whether the place has quite advantages 
enough to offset so much discomfort. What there is to 
be seen could easily have been taken in the next day on 
the march. There is no other vestige of Iturbide yielded 
to inquiry than the house in wdiicli the Plan of Iguala is 




said to have been signed — the oldest, as it is one of the 
shabbiest, in the place. It is of one story, like most pro- 
vincial Mexican houses, with the whitewash badly rubbed 
off its adobes, and is now a poor fonda, or restaurant, 
without so much as a sign. 

But Iguala is charming. A row of clean, wliite colon- 
nades, made up of square pillars of masonry, supporting 
red-tiled roofs, extends around a central plaza. The win- 
dows of the better residences are closed, not with glass, 
but projecting wooden gratings of turned posts, painted 
green. The market, a little paved plaza, opening from 
the other, consists of a series of double colonnades, light, 
commodious, and very attractive. The church, of a no- 
ble, massive form, made gay by an azure belfry and clock, 
stands in a grassy enclosure surrounded by posts and 
chains. Across tlie way is the zocalo, with brick benches, 
deep, grateful shade of tamarindos^ as large as elms, and 
arbors draped with sweet-peas in blossom. Such a park, 
such a church, and such a market could be conscientious- 
ly recommended as worthy of any populace in the world. 
The heads of palm-trees star the heavier, jS'orthern-look- 
ing foliage. Grass sprouts plentifully between the cob- 
ble-stones, and gives a rural air. A band played in the 
zocalo in the evening, though there was but a small scat- 
tering of persons to hear it. 

As I was making a sketch of the zocalo from a portal 
some very well-dressed young men and a professor came 
out. It proved that this house was a school, and a pleas- 
ant one it seemed. 

"'Ainigo^'' — friend — they said, in a rather patronizing 
tone, " what is your interest in this place ? What is your 
picturing designed for?" 

Three days farther on is Chilpancingo, to which also 
complimentary^ terms — in a lesser measure than Iguala — 


may be applied. It is the capital of this rugged Guerre- 
ro, a state named after the patriot general, who was once, 
like our own Marcos and Yincente Lopez, a muleteer. It 
contains an ornate Government-house, a zocalo with a 
music-stand ; and we met here a colonel of the detach- 
ment of cavalry guarding the countrj^, gotten up in such 
dapper civilian riding-dress as if for a promenade in Cen- 
tral Park. Population — but populations are hard to get 
at in Mexico. I should say, at random, for either place, 
about three thousand people. 

At Chilpancingo you see the place in which the orig- 
inal Declaration of Independence of Mexico was pro- 
claimed, in 1813. It had to be fought for many a long 
year till the day of Iturbide. This is merely a white 
house with a tablet, and not of farther interest. It was 
a wild and problematic cause, truly, when remote Chilpan- 
cingo was resorted to by tlie first constituent Congress, 
assembled by Padre Morelos, to throw off the yoke of 

But how has all this been done ? These little bits of 
ornate civilization are like enchanted places which we 
happen upon in penetrating the fastnesses of the moun- 
tains. Perhaps we had better take out at once some 
such commission as that of the Adelantado of the Seven 
Cities; and yet greater discoveries may await us, never 
before heard of by man. Each lies in its miniature val- 
ley, smiling and fertile, with wagon-roads for a little 
space around; but their inhabitants can hardly be con- 
ceived as going over the wild trail to supply themselves 
with the fashions and comforts they possess. 

Candid judges from without would pronounce it im- 
passable, and think it a practical joke that they were 
asked to consider it a road. We crossed and recrossed 
swift, small streams, the water reaching to the animals' 


shoulders. The colonel had a way of dangling his military 
boots on such occasions in the water, to let me see how 
excellently they were made ; but one night, I observed, he 
could not get them off, and the next morning he could 
not get them on. All of one day we traversed the Cana- 
da, or gorge, of Cholitea, over a sandy bed of which the 
flood had not yet taken possession ; another day, the 
Canada del Zopilote. Our old friend of the North, the 
ailanthus, was common where other natural features were 
dreariest, and often filled the air insufferably with its 
odor. The three rivers crossing our way were swollen 
indeed, as had been predicted. When we came down 
to the wide Mescala it was opaque with red soil, and 
tearing past at twenty miles an hour. We were trans- 
ported across it in a flat skiff guided by an oar. There 
was no plank to aid in the embarking of the horses, and 
one of them fell into such a panic as caused a terrific 
combat of well-nigh half an hour. He was finally thrown 
on board, more dead than alive, with lassoed legs. 

"Ah, what a soul you have!" {Ah, que alma tienes !) 
cried Marcos fervently to his animal, which had well-nigh 
kicked us all into the river; and losing all policy in his 
rage, he begged to borrow my revolver, that he might 
despatch such a brute, of the ownership of which he was 

The Papagallo Eiver succeeding, we crossed in a dug- 
out, and the animals swam. I asked the colonel, in my 
simplicity, if this were not more or less like war, meaning 
the manner of travel, our foraging, half open-air way of 
sleeping, and the like. lie smiled in disdain, and gave 
me a sketch of his campaigns in the day of the French 
usurpation. The rightful government had had at one 
time so little foothold in the country that it was called 
the Government of Paso del Norte, from the farthest 


town on the northern frontier, to which it was driven. 
Eating and sleeping seem hardly to have been the custom 
at all till, by an unremitting guerilla warfare, the tide 
was turned. 

When we came to " the Cajones," however, he admit- 
ted that this was a little like war. We slipped and slid 
all one day down the Cajones — natural, or rather most 
wofully unnatural, steps in the solid rock, in the midst 
of a dark forest. The perpendiculars are three and four 
feet at a time, and often there are mud-holes at the bot- 
tom ; and besides, there are vines that aim to take you 
under the chin. The sagacious steadiness of the pack- 
mules, picking their steps unaided in the most critical 
situations, was wonderful to see. 

We met peons, in white cotton, coming up with barrels 
of ardent spirits on their shoulders, and w^e came to a full 
stop to allow the passage of jingling mule-trains of goods. 
The water ran in the path with us, courteously sharing its 
right of way. At one place it increased and converged 
from every side, and the wood was full of its murmurs, 
as if another universal deluge were coming to overwhelm 
us. It was full, also, of patches of pale-green light upon 
moss-covered stones, and limpid pools, and delicate ferns, 
like snow crystals turned vegetable, ^ow and then some 
white cascade stood out of the semi-obscurity like a beck- 
oning Undine. 

Among vegetable growths on the way was the gura- 
copal, not unlike our white birch. There was a tree, the 
cuahuete — if I may trust the pronunciation of Marcos — 
smooth, bronze-colored, and often of a repulsive red, as if 
full of blood. We saw a good many charming red-and- 
yellow flowers on a high bush, like butterflies alighted, 
and once or twice a sprig of heliotrope and a calla-lily. 
The amape^ found in the villages, and somewhat like the 


chestnut, was the finest shade-tree. There was a notable 
absence throughout the journey of what we are accus- 
tomed to deem the essentially tropical features. Very 
often one might have been riding in the woods of Con- 
necticut. There was not even a rank luxuriance of 
growth, just as there were no serpents nor the swarms 
of pestiferous insects (other than a few gnats) to have 
been expected. We saw once a couple of coyote wolves 
trotting demurely along, and, again, a large iguana, a 
harmless reptile, one of which I also noted later, gliding 
around an old bronze gun at the fort of Acapulco. 

Birds I hardly recollect at all, except a white heron or 
two, charmingly reflected in an upland pool one early 
morning, and the tecuses, a kind of black-bird. Yincente 
pelted at these latter with small stones, by way of trying 
his aim. The organ-cactus, however, should be exempted 
from the complaint of a want of tropicality. It abounds 
thickly about the gorges and on the mountain slopes. 
Rising twenty -five feet and more in height, the plants 
are like seven-branched candlesticks of the Mosaic law, 
or spears of the gods hurled down and yet quivering in 
the earth. The fan -palm, too, must be excepted. It 
crops out on the bleak hill-sides as common as mullein- 
stalks with us. I can never respect it, in the conserva- 
tories, again. To see it thus was a kind of shock : it was 
like seeing some exotic belle of society masquerading as 
a kitchen wench. For one day before reaching the coast 
we had the cocoa -nut -palms. Nobody in the hamlets 
would get the fruit down for us except on a wholesale 
order, for munificent prices, which brought the cost above 
what it is in New York. There was often a shortage of 
the other fruits and commodities, as sugar, in the same 
way, in or near the very places where they grew. 

Toward the concluding stages of the march we fell in 


with another travelling-companion, an officer in the Cus- 
toms service. When he learned that the colonel was 
going to the frontier, with a view, among other things, 
to suppress the extensive smuggling carried on there, 
he said, "You had better make your little 820,000 or 
$30,000 by protecting it. That will be much less trou- 
ble. The smugglers will buy up your soldiers, anyway; 
so it amounts to the same thino;." 

I must not represent that the colonel was always of an 
oppressively serious carriage. On the contrary, he devel- 
oped a vein of humor, the more amusing from the simple 
good-faith of those at whose expense it was generally ex- 

" Do you charge no more than this to persons of our 
consideration, my good woman ?" he said to a peasant, 
whose bill was modest, though but in keeping with the 
primitive nature of the accommodations. "It is a species 
of affront, as one might say. Do you comprehend that I 
am a colonel in the army, and this gentleman a learned 
traveller, noting down the manners and customs of for- 
eign lands? When strangers of our position come this 
way again understand that double what you have de- 
manded is the least that you should take." 

The woman, abashed, received double her fee, and re- 
plied that she would bear the lesson in mind for the 
benefit of future comers. 

Again, meeting three honest-faced Indian maids, with 
pitchers on their heads, going to the spring, he said, 
" Good-day, Marias !" and turning to me, in an aside, 
"Not that I know, fi'om Adam, whether one of them 
is Maria or not." 

He praised glaringly, to her face, as of exceeding come- 
liness, a servant-maid who wore gold ear-rings and neck- 
lace, and was, perliaps, not of more than average dumpi- 


ness and plainness. She waited on lis at table at Tierra 
Colorada. Tlie colonel desired to know her name. 


" Well ai-e you named Victoria !" he cried, in simulated 
enthusiasm. '•^ Que cava simjpatica!'^ ("What a sympa- 
thetic face !") he repeated at intervals. 

Meekly, and with no suspicion of raillery, she replied, 
each time, "J!/^7 gracias ("A thousand thanks"), senorP 

" Give thanks rather to Heaven, which made you so, 
and not us, who do but recognize it," rejoined the colonel, 

At La Venta de Peregrino the night was hot, and it 
still rained, after having rained all day. A garden of 
bananas twenty feet tall grew next the basket-like house 
of canes where we stopped. We hung up our wet gar- 
ments ahd properties on the poles of the thatched porch, 
or pavilion, till it resembled one of those very numer- 
ous national establishments, the emjjenos, or pawn-shops. 
Dogs, cats, donkeys, horses, pigs and fowls — " shooed " out, 
when they became too familiar, with an emphatic Ooch-t! 
— gathered under the same shelter, as if it had been a 
IN'oah's ark. We supped on pepper-sauce, tough chicken, 
frijoles, tortillas, cream-cheese, and coffee without milk, 
spread out upon a mat on the ground. The proprietor in 
person — a man in an embroidered shirt and cotton draw- 
ers, whose talk was not of the wisest sort — held pitch-pine 
splints to light the feast. 

" Now, how does it happen, hombre," inquired the colo- 
nel, as if in a speculative way, " that a person of your fine 
appearance; a person of manners, intelligence, education, 
hospitality ; a statesman, as one might say, who goes to 
Dos Arroyos to see who is going to be elected mayor" (the 
man had been there that day, as he told us), " with a fine 
house like this — how does it happen, I say, that you have 


not a table of any sort to serve two travellers a snpper 
upon ?" 

'''' Pos hien^^ said the illiterate host, both pleased and 
flustered, scratching his head. '' Tables ? Yes, tables, now, 
to be sure. All that you say is very true, but there is a 
great scarcity of carpenters in this part of the country. 
/6Y, escasen muncho (Yes, they are mighty scarce), I can 
tell you." 


Two days after this we came down to Acapulco. It is 
a town for the most part of straggling huts, with a strag- 
gling thirty-five hundred of people. It has no vestiges 
of its antiquity but an old Spanish fort, after the order 
of Morro Castle, dismantled by Maximilian's French on 
their abandonment of the place. 

Near the fort lay a couple of rusted rails in position on 
a bit of washed-out embankment, the beginning of a rail- 
road inaugurated here with a flourish on the 5th of May, 
1881. Having passed over the line, one would judge that 
it might be much more than dread of American aggres- 
sions which would prevent its speedy completion. 

There was no small pleasure in discovering at last, like 
another Balboa, the Pacific Ocean, in boarding the fine 
steamer of the Pacific Mail Company, the City of Gren- 
ada^ which had come her long jaunt from Panama north- 
ward, and re-establishing connection with the outer world. 

With this, too, began an acquaintance with the western 
ports of Mexico. One of the semi-monthly steamers, 
rightly chosen, each month puts into them all. An idea 
of the country can thus be got which would not be possi- 
ble otherwise without much greater fatigue and expense, 
but it is not at all as favorable as that presented by the 




Neither of the three lower ports is of great size. Aca- 
pulco has the most complete and charming harbor. Man- 
zanillo is a small strip of a place, on the beach, built of 
wood, with quite an American look. The volcano of 
Colima appears inland, with a liglit cloud of smoke 
above it. 


San Bias is larger, but still hardly more than an exten- 
sive thatched village. On the bluff beside it exist the ruins 
of an ancient, substantial San Bias, shaken to pieces by an 
earthquake. Some old bronze bells from its church have 
been brought down and set up on some rude wooden 
trestles, on the ground in front of the poor chapel, with- 
out a belfry, which now fills the ecclesiastical needs of 
the place. This arrangement is sometimes referred to 
satirically as la torre de San Bias — the steeple of San 


Bias. Mj slight sketch of these bells, made on a ilj-leaf 
of my note-book in the first instance, came to have an 
importance far beyond its own merits. I hav^e the grati- 
fication of knowing that it proved to be the source of 
nothing less than the last inspiration of Longfellow. The 
great and good poet died on the 24th of March, 1882.. 
In his portfolio was found his final work, "The Bells of 
San Bias," dated March 15, which afterward appeared in 
the Atlantic MoniJdy. His memorandum-book contained 
a reference, as a suggestion for a poem, to the number 
and page of Harper'' s Magazine of the same month, in 
which the sketch was published. 

At Mazatlan we are in a bustling harbor, and a well 
and handsomely built little city, with improvements and 
shops of the better sort, which other countries than Mex- 
ico might be satisfied with. It seems surprising, until we 
comprehend the extensive back country which is tributary 
to it, how a city of but fourteen thousand people can be 
justified in maintaining so elaborate a stock of goods. 

We steam finally across the Gulf of California and up 
the coast of that peninsula which seems one of the re- 
motest points of the globe. The days are calm and blue ; 
the bold outlines of the shores offer constant novelty. An 
arbitrary line is passed : we have lost Mexico, but gained 
California — the richest and most marvellous of her prov- 

It is remarkable now to recall that, upon the accession 
of the Emperor Iturbide, Mexico boasted of being, with 
the exception of Kussia and China, the most extensive 
empire in the world. 







It is the way of sea-coasts, as observed from the water, 
to maintain a close reserve. If they allow ns a cliff or 
two, a suggestion of green forests, or a mountain in the 
background, it is as much as they do. All their natural 
projections, from a steamer's deck, retire into a straight 
line. " Yon have chosen your element," they seem to say, 
" and you shall not enjoy at once the pleasures of both. 
If you can do without me, so can I without you, and un- 
til you take the pains to disembark you shall know noth- 
ing of the attractions I purposely keep out of sight just 
over the surf-whitened margin." 

The coast of California seems of even an especial mo- 
roseness in this respect. You pass some few islands, in- 
lets at San Diego and Wilmington, the Santa Barbara 
Channel, and the baj^s of Santa Monica, San Luis, and 
Monterey ; but for the most part the coast of the land of 
gold stretches on unbroken,low, brown, and bare. Search 
is vain for any suggestion of orange-grove or palm. It is 
foreio:n-lookino: to one who arrives from the east of the 
United States. Lions might come prowling down such 
slopes. It might be Morocco, and we, on our travels, 


some new Crusoe escaped in the long-boat, with Xurj, 
from the Rover of Sallee, and afraid to land for the 
howlings of wild creatures. 

If, in our Pacific Mail steamer, we were discovering 
the country for the first time — as every traveller does 
discover a new country for the first time, no matter what 
accounts he may have heard of it — we should try along 
without finding a single good harbor for four hundred 
and fifty miles, from San Diego, at the Mexican fron- 
tier, to San Francisco. 

Then all at once comes an opening through bold Coast 
Range at the water's edge, and we are in the far-famed 
" Golden Gate." It is a mere eyelet — a strait, giving ac- 
cess to a wide expanse of bay. So happy is the opening, 
and commodious the shelter afforded, that the reversal of 
the churlishness prevailing up to this point seems miracu- 

There is no doubt, when once the site is understood, as 
to why San Francisco is located just where it is. It has 
the only natural harbor between Astoria, Oregon, to the 
north, and San Diego, to the south. It bears, besides, 
with this advantage, such a relation to the resources of 
the back country, that it could not escape a destiny of 

It is not simply a bay upon which we have entered, but 
an inland sea, with a great commerce of its own. Imme- 
diately in front rise round-backed Goat Island and Angel 
Island, resembling monsters asleep; and terraced Alca- 
traz, with its citadel, as picturesque as a bit of Malta. 
Yistas open beyond on many sides, with gleams of light 
falling on white cities under lowering atmospheres of 
smoke. San Francisco, close at hand, piles up impres- 
sively on steep hills, its bristling structures covering their 
undulations sharply from numerous hills. The water- 




front is full of shipping. French and Russian and British 
frigates, and a Mexican gun-boat, are lying at anchor. 
Craft of all shapes and sizes cross one another's wakes 
in the harbor. The lateen-sails of Genoese and Maltese 
fishermen and the junks of Chinese shrimp-catchers are 
among them. Large ferry-boats, superior, as a rule, to 
those we are familiar with at the East, ply to Oakland, 
the Brooklyn of the scene — a city already of fifty thou- 
sand people ; Alameda, with its esplanade of bathing 
pavilions ; Berkeley, with its handsome university and 
institution for blind, deaf, and dumb; San Quentin, with 
its prison ; and rustic Saucelito and San Bafael, under the 
dark shadow of Mount Tamalpais. 

From Oakland projects an interminable pier, built by 
the Central Pacific Railway. A mile in length as it is, 
it was to have gone on to a junction with vacant Goat 
Island, which would then have been made a city also, and 
become the terminus of all transcontinental journeys. 
This project was stopped by violent opposition from 
property-holders on shore. 

Patches of yellow, under the Presidio, are taken by our 
novices on the steamer for the " Sand-lots," famous in 
the Kearneyite agitations. The Presidio is a barracks, 
which was a fort and mission in the time of the first set- 
tlement by the Spaniards — to what slight extent they 
ever settled the place — in the year 1776. The man who 
has "been here before" plants himself squarely on the 
deck, pulls down a silk cap over his eyes, and explains 
that the Sand-lots are not the Presidio, but nothing less 
than the large yard of the new, unfinished City-hall, in 
the centre of town. But Kearneyism is dead and buried, 
he says — as the case proved — and there will be no chance 
to see one of these traditional assemblages. 

He names for us the various hills, and points out the 


Palace Hotel, the Market Street shot-tower, and the homes 
of some of the great millionnaires who have made such a 
stir in their day and generation. Three or four of these 
latter top California, or " Xob," Hill, with a prominence 
in keeping with their owners' station. They are those of 
the railroad kings, Crocker, Stanford, and Hopkins — the 
mining kings having Tip to this time expended their prin- 
cipal building efforts in the country. "Nob" Hill is 
three hundred feet high, plebeian Telegraph Hill nearly 
as much, and Kussian Hill, to the west — the latest pre- 
cinct taken into favor for line residences — three hundred 
and sixty. Murray Hill, New York, be it noted, is but 
seventy-eight. The riff-raff of Telegraph Hill climb, as 
is seen, by a multitude of wooden stairways; but how in 
the world do the Croesuses get up to their habitations, 
which cut the sky-line so imposingly ? We shall see. 

The city does not begin directly at the ocean, but a 
mile or two within. It follows the inner shore of a 
long, narrow peninsula which comes from the south to 
meet one coming from the north, and forms with it the 
strait and bay. 

It is, indeed, an inland sea, this bay. You go south- 
ward upon it thirty miles, northward as far, and thirty 
miles north-eastward to the Straits of Carquinez — which 
has Benicia on one side, and Martinez, the point of de- 
parture for ascent of the peak of Mount Diablo, on the 
other. Through these straits you pass, again, into Suisun 
Bay, which receives the waters of the Sacramento and 
San Joaquin rivers, and is itself some twenty miles in 


You are struck, on coming ashore from Mexico, with 
the excessive thinness of everything American. Our be- 


longings seem all of a piece with our light-running ma- 
chinery, with the spider lines of yon American buggy 
waiting for its owner. We evade [N'ature by a deft trick, 
and do not obstinately oppose her. There the old walls 
were as solid yet as the everlasting hills ; here w^e seemed 
to be living in flying-machines. 

How strange, arriving from the other side of the world, 
to find people lining the dock dressed in the common 
way, and chattering the common speech, even to the lat- 
est bits of slang ! A China steamer, however, had come 
in along-side just before us, and supplied a novel element 
of foreignness. Almond-eyed Celestials, in blue blouses, 
swarmed her decks and poured down her sides. Groups 
were loaded into express-wagons, and driven away up- 
town in charge of friends come down to meet them. 
Others trudged stoutly on foot, with their effects depos- 
ited in a pair of wicker baskets, at the ends of a long 
bamboo on their shoulders. This way of carrying burdens 
is constantly met with. The vegetable dealers hawk thus 
their wares from house to house, and present the aspect 
of the figures in cuts of the tea-fields. It is poor trav- 
elling wdien the curiosity alone and not the imagination 
is gratified, and San Francisco promises ample material 
for both. 

Had we come in the gold days of '49 we should have 
landed some half-dozen blocks farther inland than to-day. 
By so much has the water-front since been extended and 
built into a solid commercial quarter. The 'Forty-niners 
found but a scanty strip of sand at the base of the steep 

Why, then, did tliey stop here, and build their city at 
such infinite pains and expense, instead of seeking a more 
convenient site elsewhere ? There is, or was, some even 
more serious objection to all other locations. At Oak- 


land, insufficient depth of water; at Saucelito, where 
whalers, Eussian and other, had been accustomed to refit, 
Tamalpais, 2700 feet high, as against Telegraph Hill, but 
300. Distant Benicia and Yallejo — the latter now the 
naval station of the Pacific Coast, and once briefly the 
capital of the State — were much too far away. Steam 
was little in use. The greater part of the ships came 
under sail, and there were no tugs to pull them. They 
must be able to get in and out with all greatest attain- 
able expedition. 

Such ships as these were, according to the accounts 
we have of them ! The most antiquated and dangerous 
hulks were furbished up once more for this last voyage. 
The eager humanity they carried took little heed of per- 
ils and discomforts so they were but on the way to the 
goal to which all adventurous spirits turned. When the 
port was still but a beggarly scattering of huts and tents 
it could muster two hundred sail, good and bad, at once. 
Many of them never got out again. It was not on ac- 
count of nautical difficulties, but partly because they had 
no return cargoes, and principally because their crews ran 
away from them to the mines the moment foot touched 
shore. Certain craft were beached and converted into 
dwellings ; others, utilized for a time as warehouses, rot- 
ted at their moorings, and to-day form " made ground." 
The remarkable city to which they came, which had 
eight hundred and fifty souls in 1848, and twenty thou- 
sand in '49, has now, in an existence of thirty -four 
years, three hundred thousand. 

The buildings on the level made ground stand gener- 
ally on foundations of piling. The practice prevails, too, 
of tying them well together with iron rods, against the 
jar of the occasional earthquake, which is among San 
Francisco's idiosyncrasies. It is proposed to improve the 


water-front with a continuous, massive sea-wall, and a 
portion of this is already built. Extensive yards of at- 
tractive redwood lumber, which resembles cedar, and 
warehouses for grair^, are seen. The elevator system, 
owing to lack of ships for properly carrying grain in 
bulk, is nowhere in use throughout California. 

We reach next an area given up to heavy traffic in the 
fruits and produce of the country. Battery and Sansome 
streets succeeding are lined with large wholesale dry- 
goods houses similar to those in the greater Eastern cities. 
Montgomery Street shows stately office buildings, ex- 
changes, and hotels. Kearney Street has been hitherto 
the chief site of the more elegant retail trade. Its pres- 
tige is passing, however, to Market Street, a wide thor- 
oughfare which recalls State Street, Chicago. Having 
unlimited room for extension in the north and south di- 
rection of the peninsula, whereas the others named are 
contracted, Market Street is to be San Francisco's Broad- 
way of the future. 

The financial centre is contained in the area of two 
blocks, betw^een California and Bush, Sansome and Mont- 
gomery Streets. Here are those institutions wdiose great 
transactions and singular history are unknown now to but 
few parts of the world. 

The Nevada Bank, financial lever of the Bonanza 
kings, and point from which has been supposed to em- 
anate all the weiglitiest influences connected with mining 
matters, is a four-story and Mansard iron building, with 
the usual classic " orders." The Bank of California, 
whence the brilliant Balston rushed forth from his 
troubles to drown himself in the bay, is two stories, of 
" blue stone," of a pleasant color, and exceedingly sharp, 
agreeable cutting. The Merchants' Exchange, erected 
so long ago as 1867, is a very ornate, town-hall-looking 


building, of iron and stone, dark-colored, with a clock- 
tower in the centre. It is adjoined by the Safe Deposit 
Company, in a similar style, in the basement of which a 
glimpse is to be had of a splendid steel treasure-chamber, 
with a dozen life-size men in armor, gilded. 

The large and agreeably proportioned Stock Exchange, 
on Pine Street, is of gray granite, with numerous pol- 
ished columns. The board-room within is an amphithe- 
atre, and a bronze railing protects the circle of seats. 
With its agreeable illumination and neat furniture, in- 
cluding Axminster rugs, it presents a much more home- 
like aspect than is the rule with such places. Mining 
stocks exclusively are dealt in. 

It is quiet enough now. We have fallen upon evil 
days. Capitalists have withdrawn their millions to the 
East; ships come only in ballast, for grain, instead of 
with valuable exchange cargoes, and charge rates almost 
prohibitory ; there is not one " turn-out " now on the 
Cliff House road where there were formerly a dozen ; 
and real estate has shrunk fifty per cent. — if in some 
places it have any value at all. 

This board was once the theatre of a speculative move- 
ment which took hold upon the community like madness. 
The aggregate value of the mining stocks on the list, at 
the period of highest prices, in the year 1875, was, in 
round numbers, $282,000,000. The aggregate value of 
the same stocks in the summer of 1881 was but $17,000,- 
000. There had occurred a shrinkage of $265,000,000, 
or more than fifteen times the total value surviving. 

What had happened ? The " bottom had dropped out" 
of the famous " Comstocks," perhaps the richest mines 
known to history. " Consolidated Virginia," valued at 
$75,000,000, was now worth less than $1,000,000. " Sier- 
ra N^evada " fell f I'om $27,000,000 to $825,000. But the 


greatest shrinkage of all was in " California." This un- 
happy stock shrank from $84,000,000 to $351,000. 

These figures explain a depression the vestiges of 
which, though the ruinous crisis has long passed, still re- 
main. The stock-gambling mania possessed the commu- 
nity without distinction of station, and hardly of age or 
sex, and when the bubble broke there was reason enough 
for gloom with all who had laid up their treasure in such 
unstable form. 

Some of the earlier buildings, now flat, thin, and un- 
ornainental, were obtained at expense quite out of pro- 
portion. The stone for the old City Hall was brought 
expressly from Australia ; that of the AVells-Fargo build- 
ing, and the Union Club, from China. The granite of 
the Branch Mint, a fine, classic design, was dressed in 
Oregon. The newer structures exhibit all the varieties 
of form and color in w^hich the modern decorative taste 
delights. The material for most is procured in the State 

The idea of being in a remote part of the world is 
kept before you in many ways. Here is a sign of the 
" New Zealand Insurance Company." Fancy New Zea- 
land, where a cannibal population was lately eating mis- 
sionaries, sending us over its insurance companies ! Here 
is the Alaska Commercial Company, the Bank of British 
Columbia; and here, its inscription gilded in Chinese as 
well as English, the Hong-Kong and Shanghai Banking 
Company. An occasional building is without the usual 
entrance-doors, its staircase, in the comparative mildness 
of the climate, left as open as the street. 

A system of alleys passes among the colossal structures, 
and these abound in refreshment resorts — " The Dividend 
Saloon," "Our Jacob," "The Comstock Exchange," and 
"The New Idea" — to which the hastening business men 



repair in intervals of their labors. The San Francisco 
boot-blacks, a model to their class, are neatly uniformed 
men instead of ragged urchins. Favored by the climate, 
they establish their rows of easy- chairs on platforms un- 
der a canvas awning, have a newspaper and the gossip 
for you while you wait, and somewhat usurp the place 
so long sacred to the barber. 


The corner of California and Montgomery Streets may 
be considered one of two focal points in San Francisco ; 
the " Lotta Fountain " is the other. 

The Lotta Fountain — a tawdry, little, cast-iron affair, 
presented to the city by the actress after whom it is 
named — has been given a place of distinguished honor. 
Five important streets radiate from it. Its pedestal is 


a place where the timid seek refuge when entangled in 
the throng of vehicles. Market Street extends to the 
Oakland Ferry one way, and past the Mechanics' Insti- 
tute and pleasure resort of Woodward's Garden to the 
distant Mission Hills in the other. Geary Street takes 
you, by a " cable road," westward to Lone Mountain, 
around which all the cemeteries are grouped, and Golden 
Gate Park, stretching to the ocean. On the top of Lone 
Mountain stands up to view from far and wide a dark 
cross, which weirdly recalls that of Calvary. Third Street, 
a thoroughfare of working-people, abounding in small res- 
taurants, markets, and " tin-type " galleries, leads to the 
water at a different angle from Market. Finally, Kearney 
Street debouches also at the Lotta Fountain, and Mont- 
gomery terminates but a few steps below. 

The Palace Hotel, vast, drab-colored, of iron and stuc- 
coed brick, looms up nine stories in height on Mai'ket 
Street, and closes the vista from Montgomery. Studded 
with bay-windows, it has the air of a mammoth bird-cage. 
The San Franciscan, wherever met with, never fails to 
boast of it as the most stupendous thing of its kind in the 
world. With the conviction that size is not always the 
particular in which our hotels, like some of our communi- 
ties, most need improvement, I should say that perfection 
had hardly yet been reached. 

Within it is more satisfactory^ At night an electric 
light strikes upon many tiers of columns, as white as 
paint can make them, in a large glass-roofed court, with 
an effect quite fairy-like and Parisian. Twice a week a 
band plays there, and the guests promenade up and down 
their galleries or look over the balustrade. In the bottom 
there are flowers, people sitting in chairs, and carriages 
stand in a circular, asphalt-paved driveway. 

Though the resident of San Francisco feels called upon 


to complain of its present stagnation, the bare existence 
of such a place strikes the new-comer with amazement. 

Its air is not ephemeral, bnt of a fine, massive gravity. 
Its shops are filled with costly goods, its streets with 
comely, beautifully dressed women. It has an art and 
literature. Private galleries contain foreign modern pict- 
ures of the best class. Some local artists have made for 
themselves a more than local reputation. There is a well- 
attended " School of Design," which has already gradu- 
ated several pupils whose talent has been recognized 
abroad. The "Mercantile Library" is the most handsome 
and complete in its appointments of any American city. 

San Francisco "society," though a trifle bizarre in the 
use of its newly acquired wealth, has an nnder-stratum of 
unexceptionable refinement. Its most bizarre side, too, is 
certainly approved of in Europe, where its magnates en- 
tertain kings and give their daughters in marriage to 
lofty titles. 

The European traveller who visits " the land of Bar- 
num " and " of Washington " with literary intent must 
be cruelly broken up by what he will find here. Such a 
place should be a vast, motley camp, as it is known to 
European travellers that most American cities should be. 
With its thirty-three years, and its heterogeneous ele- 
ments, it should exhibit a combination of squalor and 
mushroom splendor. The wretched shanty should elbow 
the vulgar palace, a democratic boorishness of manners, 
blazing in diamonds, the faint, refined natures that by any 
chance have ventured into such a Babel. But, alas ! we 
live in an age of expedition, of labor-saving inventions. 
With unlimited means, such as here enjoyed, the work of 
years is condensed into months. Camp there is none, but 
a luxurious city, presenting all the ordinary characteristics 
of civilization. 


An association comprising in a genial way most of tbe 
best elements of San Francisco is the Bohemian Club. It 
is found taking a very creditable interest in literature and 
the arts — it numbering the professionals and amateurs in 
these branches in its membership — and entertains and 
welcomes distinguished strangers. A monthly entertain- 
ment of a light, composite character is held, known as a 
"Jinks." The grand festival of the year, however, is 
a "High Jinks," which takes the form of an excursion 
into the country. The principal ceremonial of the High 
Jinks has sometimes been held at night, in masquerade 
costume, among the Big Trees, the enormous redwoods 
of Sonoma County, to the northward. It may well be 
believed that the doings on these occasions are as fantas- 
tic and amusing as the merry inventions of a couple of 
hundred bright social spirits can make them. 


A population of three hundred thousand souls is not 
extraordinary now, as populations go, but there are cer- 
tain things which make San Francisco cosmopolitan be- 
yond its actual size. An entirely new commercial situa- 
tion gives rise to a new milieic. San Francisco faces 
toward Asia, the great English-speaking colonies of 
Oceanica, and the islands of the sea, as New York faces 
Europe, It enjoys already a trade with the Orient 
amounting to ten millions per annum in imports and 
eight millions in exports. The possibilities of this trade, 
extended among the teeming populations in the cradle 
of the human race, seem almost limitless. A way will be 
found sooner or later out of the imbroglio into which our 
inexperience has plunged us on the Chinese question, and 
communication will flow unimpeded. In countries sepa- 

"high jinks" of the bohkmian cj-L'b among the big treks. 


rated by water, and demanding each otlier's productions, 
cities arise at tlie places of transfer, and proportioned to 
its vohinie; and for all this San Francisco has one of the 
most remarkable of situations. 

The Oriental trade is but a small item in the total. It 
has ships, besides those bound for the Eastern and Euro- 
pean ports, going out to the British and Russian posses- 
sions in the North, Mexico, Central and South Amer- 
ica, Tahiti, Feejee, Manila, the Sandwich and Friendly 
Islands — to all those far-off points in the South Pacific 
which now in their turn promise to shine with the light 
of civilization and become powers of the earth. 

Coals are burned at firesides — not of the most desira- 
ble quality, it must be confessed — which come from the 
coast once characterized by the poet in the line — 

"The wolf's long howl on Oonalaska's shore." 

Seventy millions pounds of sugar a year are brought from 
those Sandwich Islands which slew Captain Cook, now a 
civilized, modern state. But it is particularly Australa- 
sia, and our coming relations with it, that awaken admir- 
ing speculations. Melbourne, Australia, has already more 
than 280,000 people, Sydney 225,000, while along the 
coasts of that once cannibal New Zealand, now sending 
us its insurance companies,, scatter also a line of flour- 
ishing cities: Dunedin,with its 43,000 people; Auckland, 
with 40,000 ; Christchurch, 32,000 ; Wellington, 22,000 ; 
and I know not how many others. 

Astoria and Portland, in Oregon, San Diego, and, no 
doubt, ports to be created in time along the Mexican 
shores, will receive a share of these new influences in 
the world, but at San Francisco they touch us first and 

There is a definite fascination in coming to the ''jump- 


ing-off place," tlie final verge of the latest of the conti- 
nents. An excellent situation in which to feel it is to lie 
on the brown heather at the point above the Golden Gate 
— though it is a raw and gnstj place in which to lie too 
long — or to look down from the parapeted road or piazza 
of tlie Cliff House. 

Here practically nothing intervenes between you and 
Japan, except w^e make mention of the clump of Seal 
Eocks, upon which the grouty sea-lions are fl.oundering 
and roaring, down there in the surf in front. 

" Ah ! when a man has travelled," says Thoreau, "when 
he has robbed the horizon of his native fields of its mys- 
tery, tarnished the blue of distant mountains with his feet, 
he may begin to think of another world." 

Yery well. Perhaps it may do a man no harm to think 
of another world now and then, if not upon one pretext, 
on another. At evening the Golden Gate is the way to 
the sunset. The orb of day settles into the sea at the 
end of the gleaming strait, precisely in that East where 
we always figure it to ourselves as rising in the morning. 
The great circle is at last complete ; and, as the extremes 
of every kind, even of love and hate, are said to be iden- 
tical, the old, quiescent East has become the bound of the 
new, impetuous West. 

"What is a world to do," you idly ask, " when it has no 
longer a West? How is it to get on without that vague 
open region on its borders, always the safety-valve and 
outlet for surplus population and uneasy spirits?" 

" But when the race has quite arrived at this farther 
shore, will it stop here? or will it possibly start round 
the world again ? Will it go on yet many times more, 
always beginning with the highest perfection yet at- 
tained, weaker types dying out in front to make room, 
till it shall become in its march a dazzling army of light? 


Is a millennium, perchance, to be reached in this cumu- 
lative way, as the power of a magnet is increased by the 
number of turns of the helix?" 

"The sentiment of gain," I say, continuing these wise 
speculations, "has been the leading factor in drawing the 
nations around the globe. Gold has been dangled as a 
bait: first, the hope of it by conquest; later, in mines of 
the precious metals. It has danced, Ariel-like, will-o'-the- 
wisp -like, before them. Tantalized, disappointed, after 
floundering on a ways, they have paused to develop the 
lands upon which they found themselves. 

"But now at length, when the vacant spaces are full, 
and the need of subterfuge exhausted, the bait is cast 
down, to be gorged upon by those who find it. Never 
before, till '49, were its followers rewarded with such un- 
stinted liberality. The treasure of the earth seemed piled 
up in the fastnesses of the far Pacific." 

I recall that their yield since the year 1848 has reached 
the sum of $2,100,000,000, and is still going on at 
$80,000,000 a year. Gold, scattered at first in the very 
sands, was later washed out of the gravel-banks, by the hy- 
draulic process, and later yet got by crushing the quartz 
rock. When gold began to diminish it was followed by 
silver. The great " Bonanza " mines of Nevada were 
discovered. "Consolidated Virginia" alone produced 
$65,000,000 in seven years. 


What fabulous sums besides — to go back to town — the 
managers made by the ingenious process of " milking the 
market " I do not undertake to compute. The prices of 
this celebrated stock at successive dates, not far apart, 
were : first, $17 a share ; then $1 ; $110 ; $12 ; $700 ; and 
then, in the final collapse, in 1875, little or nothing at all. 


I have seen a poor saloon called the "Auction Lunch," 
on Washington Street, near the Post-office, said to have 
been kept by tlie once barkeepers. Flood and O'Brien, 
who attained such a splendid prosperity. There is no 
historic tablet over the door, but one naturally looks with 
reverence at the place where the beginning of such things 
could be. The proprietors of the "Auction Lunch" were 
in the habit of taking gold-dust occasionally in a friendly 
way from niiners, for safe-keeping while the owners were 
enjoying themselves about town. It was from such per- 
sons that they obtained the " points " which resulted in 
their getting possession first of " Hale and Norcross," and 
then of the greater part of the properties of the Com- 
stock lode. 

I fell in with a professed friend of theirs of early times, 
whose fortunes had not mended at all at the same pace. 
He descanted on the inequalities of fate, and what he 
termed "bull-dog" luck. 

He could prove that Flood and O'Brien were not even 
good business men — "though Jimm.y Flood does go about 
with a wise air," he said, "and Billy O'Brien left, at his 
death, half a million dollars to each of eight or ten nieces." 

There is hardly a limit to the exceptional characters 
and exceptional doings to be heard of in San Francisco. 
Though the city affect — or has been driven into — a quies- 
cent air now, it has hardly ever done anything like any 
other place. It began with the wild Argonauts of '49, 
whom Bret Harte has so strikingly portrayed. It had 
had six great fires, which destroyed property to the 
amount of $23,000,000, when yet less than three years of 
age. It was ruled for months, in the year 1856, by a vig- 
ilance committee, which rid it of eight hundred evil-doers 
of one sort and another, the worst by summary execution, 
the rest by banishment. 


The politics of the State before the war were Demo- 
cratic, with a rather strong Southern bias. There was a 
long feud between the two great Senatorial paladins, 
Broderick and Gwin, which resulted in the death of 
Broderick by the duelling-pistol of one of the partisans 
of the latter. There was the long fight and a final deliv- 
erance from an incubus of forged Spanish land titles, the 
manufacture of which "had become a business and a 
trade," and which covered the area of the city many 
times over. Then came the war, and the peculiarities 
growing out of the retention of a solid currency, while 
the rest of the country was deluged with a depreciated 

The brilliant period, later, when the Bonanza mines 
were pouring out their floods of riches, and the favorite 
stocks were running delightfully up and down the gamut 
from $1 to $700 a share, was followed, as I have said, by 
a depression of the deepest dye. In the unbearable dis- 
appointment of their losses, and the stagnation of trade, 
a part of the community snatched at a theory held out 
to them by demagogues, that it was their political institu- 
tions which were somehow to blame. Upon this basis a 
singular new party, wild and half-communistic in charac- 
ter, arose, and met with a brief success. The truckman, 
Denis Kearney, was its Cains Gracchus or Watt Tyler, 
and set it in motion with blasphemous mouthings from 
an improvised tribune in the Sand-lots. It elected a 
mayor who was at the same time a Baptist preacher. 
This mayor's son — preacher, too — rode up one day and 
assassinated at his own door an editor who had passed 
strictures on their course. The party voted a new con- 
stitution, which was thought to be a prelude to universal 
confiscation, and capitalists fled before it in alarm. 

And, finally, this remarkable city, having become the 



recipient of a Cliinese immigration which has given to a 
part of it the aspect of a portion of the Flowery Kingdom, 
has been agitated by fears of complete snbversion under 
Orientalism, and has originated new problems for politi- 
cal economy and international law. 

After but a tithe of such violent and novel experiences 
any city would be glad to rest awhile. San Francisco 
seems entering upon a new period, and likely to do things 
henceforth more in the normal way. There has been a 
time of contemplation, and the lessons of the past have 
struck in. As things have slowly improved the gloom of 
the reaction has disappeared after the unhealthy inflation 
that gave it birth. Tlie new political craze was of but 
short duration. I never saw anywhere so quietly con- 
ducted an election as that of the last autumn, which 
dismissed the Kearney-Kalloch faction from power. A 
special provision prevents the approach of any person but 
the voter immediately engaged within one hundred feet 
of a polling-place. I had rather expected to see dead and 
maimed Chinamen lying at every corner, or fleeing before 
infuriated crowds. But though San Franciscans enter- 
tain beliefs of their own as to the undesirability of a 
great Chinese immigration, during a long stay I neither 
saw nor heard of an attempt to molest any individual on 
account of it. 

The new constitution itself proved a harmless bugaboo. 
It is a gratifying tribute, in fact, to native common-sense 
and Anglo-Saxon ideas that this instrument, produced in 
a time of great excitement, and, as was charged, with the 
most subversive intentions, should not only contain so lit- 
tle that is dangerous, but so much in a high degree com- 
mendable. It does not harm property. Frightened cap- 
ital may return with entire safety. I profess myself so 
far a person of incendiary opinions as to hold that an 


honest directness of purpose in this new constitution, its 
effoi't to simplify legislation and sweep away embarrass- 
ments, often maintained much more in the interest of leg- 
islator and lawyer than the public good, is well worthy of 
imitation elsewhere. 

Physical and commercial conditions are also changing. 
Life hereafter will depend less upon spasmodic " finds," 
and more on the humdrum and legitiuiate industries. 
Mining, though the supply of treasure, with improved 
machinery, still holds out in a uniform way, takes a less- 
er rank. Agriculture and manufactures come every 
day more to the front. California produces an annual 
wheat crop of §50,000,000, a wool crop of $10,000,000, 
wines to the amount of $4,000,000, and fruits worth as 
much more, though these last two branches are but in 
their infancy. Of the greater part of all this San Fran- 
cisco is the entrepot. 

The smoke of the soft coals of Alaska, Oregon, and 
Australia too may be allowed to thicken the air to some 
purpose, since it produces manufactures to the amount of 
$75,000,000 per annum. 



SAN FRANCISCO {Continued). 

Kearney Street (sharing its distinction now with 
Market Street) is, in sunshiny weather, the promenade 
of all the leisurely and well-dressed. It abounds in jew- 
ellers, who often combine the business of pawnbroking 
with tlie other, and are fond of prefixing " Uncle " to 
their names. Thus, " Uncle Johnson," " Uncle Jackson," 
or " Uncle Thompson," all along the way, make a genial 
proffer of their hospitable service. There are shops of 
Chinese and Japanese goods, though this is not the reg- 
ular quarter, and "AssiamuU and Wassiamull" invite us 
to inspect the goods of the East Indies. 

Perhaps European foreigners of distinction — English 
lords, M.P.'s, and younger sons, German barons and Kus- 
sian princes — on their way round the world, are not more 
numerous than in New York, but they seem more nu- 
merous in proportion. The books of the Palace Hotel 
are seldom free of them, and they are detected, at a 
glance, strolling on the streets or gazing at the large 
photographs of the Yosemite Yalley and the Big Trees 
which hang at prominent corners. 

There is a genial feeling about Kearney Street, which 
arises, I think, from its being level — at the foot of the 
steep hills. The temptation is to linger there as long as 
possible. The instant you leave it for the residence por- 


tion of town you liave to begin a back-breaking climb. 
The ascent is like going np-stairs, and nothing less. 

The San Francisco householder of means is "like the 
herald Mercury new-lighted on a heaven-kissing hill." 
How in the world, I have asked, does he get up there? 
Well, by the Cable road. I consider the Cable road one 
of the very foremost in tlie list of curiosities, though I 
have refrained from bringing it forward till now. It is a 
peculiar kind of tramway, useful also on a level, but in- 
vented for the purpose of overcoming steep elevations. 

Two cars, coupled, are seen moving, at a high rate of 
speed, without jar and in perfect safety, up and down all 
these extraordinary undulations of ground. There is no 
horse, no steam, no vestige of machinery, no ostensible 
means of locomotion of any kind. The astonished com- 
ment of the Chinaman, observing this marvel for the first 
time, may be worth repeating once more, old as it is: 

" Melican man's wagon, no pushee, no pullee ; go top- 
side hill like flashee." 

The solution of the mystery is an endless wire cable 
hidden in a box in the road-bed, and turning over a great 
wheel in an engine-house at the top of the hill. The fore- 
most of the two cars is provided with a grip, or pincers, 
running underneath in a continuous crevice in the box 
wnth the cable. When the conductor wishes to o^o on he 
clutches with his grip the cable ; when he wishes to stop 
he lets go and puts on a brake. There is no snow and 
ice to clog the central crevice, wdiich, by the necessities of 
the case, must be open. The system has been applied, 
however, with emendations, in Chicago, and is about to 
be on the great Brooklyn Bridge, at ]S"ew York. 

The great houses on the hill, like almost all the resi- 
dences of the city, are of wood. It seems a pity, consid- 
ering the money spent, that this should be so. It is 


attributed to the superior warmth and dryness of wood 
in so moist and cool a climate, and also to its security 
against the shock of earthquakes. Whatever be the rea- 
son, the San Francisco Croesuses have reared for them- 
selves palaces which might be swept off at a breath and 
leave no trace of their existence. Their architecture has 
nothing to commend it to favor. They are large, rather 
over-ornate, and of no particular style. 

The Hopkins residence — a costly Gothic chateau, car- 
ried out also in wood — may be excepted from this descrip- 
tion. The basement stories, however, are of stone, and 
there is enough work in these and foundations to build 
many a iirst-class Eastern mansion. To prepare sites for 
habitations on the steep hills has been an enormous labor 
and expense. The part played by retaining- walls, ter- 
races, and staircases is extraordinary. The merest wood- 
en cottage is often prefaced by works which outweigh its 
own importance a dozen to one. 

When a peerage is drawn up for San Francisco, the 
grader will follow in rank the railroad-builder and the 
miner. To hardly anybody else has such an amount of 
lucrative emploj^ment been open. What a cutting and 
filling! what gravelling and paving! 

Striking freaks of surface and arrangement result. 
The city might have been terraced up, like Genoa, or 
Naples above the Chiaja. It is picturesque still, in the 
thin, American way, through the absolute force of cir- 
cumstances. You enter the retaining-walls of stone or 
plank through door-ways or grated archways like the 
postern-gates of castles. You pass up stone steps in tun- 
nels or vine-covered arbors within these ; or zigzag from 
landing to landing of long, wooden stairways, without. 
Odd little terrace streets and " places," as Charles Place, 
with bits of gardens, are found sandwiched between the 


regular formation. A wide thoroughfare, Second Street 
— cut through Rincon Hill, the Xob Hill of a former day, 
to afford access to water for vehicles — has been the oc- 
casion of leaving isolated, high and dry, some few old 
houses, with cypress-trees about them, approached by 
wooden staircases almost interminable. Dark at sunset 
against a red sky, for instance, they present effects to 
delight the heart of an etcher. 


In this line, however, nothing is equal to Telegraph 
Hill, which bristles with the make-shift contrivances of a 
much humbler population. Bret Harte lived there at 
one time, and asserts that the goats used to browse on his 
}K)ts of geranium in the second-story windows. They 
also pranced on the roof at night in such a way that a 
new-comer thought tliere had been a fine thunder-storm. 
Elsewliere, instead of precipices, you meet with chasms. 


Looking down from tlie roadway, you will see some poor 
figure of a woman sewing in a bay-window which was 
once filled w^ith air and sunshine, but now commands 
only a patch of mildewed wall. 

The views from the hills are of no common order. 
As you rise on the Cable road you hang in the air above 
the body of tlie city, and above the harbor and its envi- 
ronment. The Clay Street road, one of the steepest, 
passes through the Chinese quarter. Half-way up an 
ensign, of a blue -and -crimson dragon on an orange 
field, on the Chinese Consulate-general, flies, a bright bit 
of color in the foreground. The bay, far below the eye, 
has an opaque look. On some rare days it is very blue 
in color, but oftener it is of slate or greenish gray. Pass- 
ing vessels criss-cross their wakes in white upon the 
green like pencils on a slate. 

The atmosphere above it is rarely clear. Some lurking 
wisp of fog at best is generally stealing in at the Golden 
Gate, or under dark Tamalpais, watching to rush over 
and seize upon the city. An obscurity, part of fog and 
part of smoke, hovers in areas, now enveloping only the 
town, again the prospect, so that nothing can be seen, 
though the town itself be free. Xow it lifts momentari- 
ly from the horizon for glimpses of distant islands and 
cities, and the peak of Mount Diablo, thirty miles away, 
and shuts down as suddenly as if these w^ere but figments 
of a vision. 

The view down upon the lights at night is particularly 
striking. Set in constellations, or radiating in formal 
lines, they are like the bivouac of a great army. It 
might be the hosts of Armageddon were encamped 
round about awaiting the dawn. For several days, from 
California Street Hill, there was the spectacle of a devas- 
tating fire in the woods of Mount Tamalpais. Its dark 

^.4.V FRAXCISCO. 329 

smoke rendered the sunsets lurid and ominous, and at 
night the burning mountain, reflected in the bay, was a 
more terrible Vesuvius or Ilecla. 

One is hardly supposed to "travel" as yet in America 
as in Europe. We make our journeys here for definite 
objects, chiefly on business. Xo doubt, if we could bring 
ourselves to the same receptive frame of mind, the same 
readiness to be amused by odds-and-ends of experience, 
a good deal the same kind of pleasure could be got out 
of it as there. San Francisco at least appears to afford 
a few of exactly the same details which receive the atten- 
tion of the leisurely abroad. 

Italian fishermen eat macaroni, and drink red wine, 
and wait upon the tides, about the vicinity of Broadway 
and Front Streets. The Italian colony, for the rest, is 
pretty numerous. The part that remains on shore is 
chiefly composed of grocers, butchers, and restaurateurs. 
Chinese slirimp- catchers are found in the cove at Po- 
trero, behind the large new manufacturing buildings of 
tliat quarter, and again at San Bruno Point, twelve 
miles down the bay. Their boats and junks are not 
on a large scale, but display the usual peculiarities of 
their nautical architecture. 

The French colony is also numerous, and the language 
heard continuallv on the street. Takino^ advantap:e of 
the variety and excellence of supplies in the markets, 
French restaurants furnish repasts — including a half- 
bottle of wine of the country — of extraordinary cheap- 
ness. A considerable Mexican and Spanish contingent 
mingles also with the Italians, along Upper Dupont, 
Vallejo, and Green Streets. Shops with such titles as 


La Sorpresa and the Tienda Mexicana adjoin the Unitd 
W Italia and the Roma saloon. A Mexican militia com- 
pany turns out, under the green, white, and red tricolor, 
on every anniversary of the national independence, the 
16th of September. During the Carnival season a form 
of entertainment known as " Cascarone parties " prevails 
among the Spanish residents. The participants pelt one 
another with egg-shells filled with gilt and colored pa- 
pers. Sometimes a canvas fort is erected in the street, 
and attacked and defended by means of these missiles 
and handfuls of flour. Such Spanisli life as there is can 
hardly be said to have remained from the eai-ly days, 
since the Spanish settlement at best was infinitesimal. It 
has been attracted here in the mean time like other im- 
migration. A dusky mother, smoking a cigarette, in a 
hammock, in a palm-thatched hut, on the Acapulco trail, 
told me of a son wdio had gone to San Francisco twenty 
years before and become a carpenter there. He had for- 
gotten now, she heard, even how to speak liis native 

The Latin race seems to have been especially attracted 
to the country of a mild climate and original traditions 
like their own. But German and Scatidinavian names 
too on the sign-boards — Eussian Ivanovich and Abramo- 
vich, and Hungarian Haraszthy — show that no one blood 
or influence has exclusive sway. There appears to be 
an unusually free intermingling and giving in marriage 
among these various components. They are less chmnish 
than with us. Lady Wortley Montagu remarked, at Con- 
stantinople, some hundred years ago, a simihir fusion, 
and believed it a reason for a debased and mongrel race. 
But a very different class of blood mingles here from 
that of Orientals at Constantinople. Our much more 
cheerful theory is, that we are to combine the best qual- 





ities, the liardihood and good looks of all, while eliminat- 
ing their defects. Certainly the bright, intelligent aspect 
of the children of San Francisco does nothing as yet to 
discredit such a theory. 

Such vestiges of '49 as yet remain are extremely few. 
I confess to surprise as well at the slightness of the his- 
toric records at the Pioneer Society. I make little doubt 
that they could be easily paralleled in many other libra- 
ries of the country. " Xorth Beach," under Telegraph 
Hill, may be visited both for its memories and present 
aspect of picturesque ruin. It is where the pioneer ships 
landed. Hence, also, the ill-fated Ralston swam out into 
the bay, and here are the remains of " Harry Meigs's 
Wharf." Harry Meigs was a famous prototype of 
Ralston's in the Fifties. Defeated in brilliant financial 
schemes, and having endeavored to save his defeat by 
forger}^, he was obliged to take flight. He chartered a 
schooner to take him to the South Sea Islands, which lay 
off the wharf for him at midnight. 

" This is hell," he is reported to have said as he 
stepped on board, expressing thus his Lucifer-like sense 
of humiliation and downfall. 

He did not remain long at the South Sea Islands, but 
sailed for Peru. There he began the world again, built 
all the railways of that republic, became a great million- 
naire, sent back and paid all his debts, and was divested, 
by act of Legislature, so far as legislation could do it, of 
the stigma of his crimes. His story is by no means a 
good one to hold up to the emulation of 3'outh, but it is 
romantic, and in some sense characteristic of California. 

The blackened old pier is a dumping -place for city 
refuse now, and swarms of chiffoniers gather around it 
to pick out such scraps of value as they may before the}^ 
are washed away h\ the daily tides. 


The leading streets of San Francisco commemorate the 
pioneers of State or place. A newer series adopts the 
names of the States of the Union, and simple numbers, 
which are carried already to Fortj-fifth, for avenues, and 
Thirtieth for streets. The fast-growing, tough, fragrant, 
but scrawny, eucalyptus is much in use as a shade-tree. 
In the door-yards grow cypresses, the Spanish-bayonet, 
and the ordinary flowers, needing a great deal of sprink- 
ling to keep them in good order. 

The San Francisco school of writers, developed in the 
successful days of the Overland Monthly, have not made 
much use of the city itself in their literature. Bret Harte 
confined his local range to the doings of certain sniall 
boys, some " Sidewalkings," and the disagreeable features 
of the climate, in "Neighborhoods I Have Moved From." 
It was from Folsom Street that the adventurous Master 
Charles Summerton, aged five, set out for his great expe- 
dition to Yan Dieman's Land, by way of the Second and 
Market Street cars. I had occasion to visit Folsom Street 
sometimes, and even this slight incident — such is the po- 
tency of the literary touch — has given it a genial interest 
which many others, as good in appearance, and even 
stately Yan Xess Avenue, on the other side of town- 
very much better — by no means share. 


San Francisco offers, in my view, the advantage of 
saving a trip around the world. Whoever, having seen 
Europe, shrinks from farther wanderings may derive here 
from a compact Cliinese city of 30,000 souls such an idea 
of the life and doings of the Celestial Empire as may 
appease curiosity and take the place of a voyage to the 


The Chinese immigrants, it is true, rarely erect build- 
ings of their own, but fit themselves to what they find. 
They fit themselves in with all their peculiar industries, 
their smells of tobacco and cooking-oil, their red and yel- 
low signs and hand-bills, opium pipes, high-soled slippers, 
sticks of India ink, silver pins, and packets of face-pow- 
der, their fruits and fish, tlieir curious groceries and more 
curious butcher's meat — they have fitted all this into the 
Yankee buildings, and taken such absolute possession that 
we are no longer in America, but Shanghai or Hong- 
Kong. The restaurants make the nearest approach to the 
national fa9ades, but this is brought about by adding 
highly-decorated balconies, lanterns, and inscriptions, and 
not building outright. 

I had the curiosity to try one of the best of the restau- 
rants — quite a gorgeous afi^air, at the head of Commercial 
Street — and found the fare both neatly served and pala- 
table. There was a certain monotony in the bill, which I 
ascribed to a desire to give us dishes as near the Amer- 
ican style as possible. We had chicken-soup, with fiour 
paste resembling macaroni; a very tender chicken, sliced, 
through bones and all, in a bowl ; a bowl of duck ; a pew- 
ter chafing-dish of quail with spinach. All the food is set 
out in bowls, and each helps himself, with ebony chop- 
sticks, to such morsels as he desires. The chopsticks, held 
in the fingers of the right hand, somewdiat after the man- 
ner of castanets, are about as convenient to the novice as 
a pair of lead-pencils. We drank sahi^ or rice brandy, in 
infinitesimal cups, during the dinner, and at dessert very 
fine tea. 

The upper story of these places is reserved for guests 
of the better class. Those of slender purses are accom- 
modated below. To these is served a second drawing of 
the same tea which has been used, and such meats as re- 




main in a tolerable state. The upper story is decorated 
with carved work, painted scarlet, and heavily gilded, and 
screens, lanterns, and teak- wood tables and stools ; while 
below pine-wood tal)les are deemed good enough. 


Dropping in late one evening for a cnp of tea, I had 
the fortune to witness a supper-party — a novel, ge?ire pic- 
ture, glowing with color. There w^ere a dozen dignified- 
looking men, dressed in handsome silk clothing — black, 
blue, and purple. With them were as many women — 
young, slender, and pretty, of their type, while the women 
seen walking about the streets are very coarse and clumsy. 



Their black hair was carefully smoothed, and looped up 
with silver pins, and their complexions were daintily made 
of pink and white and vermilion, realizing exactly the 
heads painted on their silken fans. The most interesting 
girl was of Fellah or Hebrew aspect, and was probably 
not without an admixture of other blood in her veins. 
The men occupied carved teak-wood stools about a large 
table, spread with a white cloth, and covered with charm- 
ing china. The women stood by and served them. Now 
and then one of the latter rested momentarily on a corner 
of a stool, in a laughing way, and took a morsel also. The 
whole was a bit of bright C/iinoiserie worth a long jour- 
ney to witness. 

They were very merry, and played, among other amuse- 
ments, a game like the Italian moy^a. In this one would 
hold up fingers in rapid succession, while the others 
shouted the probable number at the tops of their voices. 
What with this, their laughter, drumming on the table, 
and general hubbub, besides an orchestra of their peculiar 
music adding its din from behind a screen, they were not 
very unlike a party of Parisian canotiers and grisettes 
supping at Bougival. 

The temple and the theatre of the Chinese emigrant 
have an identical character wherever he goes. I found 
here the same scenes in both I had witnessed in Havana 
at the beginning of my journey. The temple, economi- 
cally set up in some upper rear room, abounds in gaudy 
signs and some good bronzes, but is little frequented. 
The theatre is far more popular. The dresses used here 
are rich and interesting. The performers are continu- 
ally marching, fighting, spinning about, pretending to be 
dead and jumping up again, and singing in high, cracked 
voices like the whine of a bagpipe. A doughty warrior, 
who may be Gengis Khan or Timour the Tartar, and bear 


% M II, ,i|,,i,,l,ll 1 



\f"' if ii'i|ii|M'i«i-if 

/-aC,,^ ■ /- / V ;.M 




himself with the " most hanglity stride and withering 
pride," will sing you his lines in this same puny, whining 
voice, and no other. The slightness of the means of illu- 
sion is a naive feature of interest in the Chinese drama. 
As one of the simple rustics in the Midsu7mner NighVs 
Dream holds up an arm to represent a wall, across which 
Pyramus and Thisbe are supposed to talk, so here, if it 
be designed, for instance, to represent the march of an 
army through the woods, a screen is put up at one side 
of the stage, bearing an inscription which no doubt says 
"Woods," and around this the military betake them- 

The cemetery is more curious even than the theatre of 
Chinadom in San Francisco. I came upon it in the course 
of a long stroll one afternoon, and was almost the only 
spectator of some peculiar ceremonial rites in propitiation 
of the dead. It is not grouped in the general Golgotha at 
Lone Mountain, but adjoins that devoted to the city pau- 
pers, out among the melancholy sand-dunes by the ocean. 
It is parcelled off by white fences into a large number of 
enclosures for separate burial guilds, or tongs. These have 
large signs upon them — " Fook Yam Tong," "Tung Sen 
Tong," " Ye On Tong," etc. One has almost difficulty 
to persuade himself that he is awake witnessing such do- 
ings as here take place in the broad sunlight of Yankee- 

It is the practice to convey the bones of their dead to 
China, but there are preliminary funerals in regular form. 
All the " hacks " in San Francisco are often engaged. 
The bones are left in the ground a year or more before 

Toward three in the afternoon a number of express- 
wagons of the common sort drove up with freights of 
Chinamen and Chinawomen, and curiously assorted pro- 


visions. The "hoodlum" drivers conducted themselves 
peaceably enough, but seemed to have a certain sardonic 
air at the idea of having to draw their profits from pa- 
trons of such a class. The provisions were unloaded, taken 
up and laid on small wooden altars, of which there is one 
at the front of each tong. Most conspicuous were whole 
roast pigs, decorated with ribbons and colored papers. 
There were next roast fowls, rice, salads, sweetmeats, 
fruits, cigars, and rice brandy. The participants set to 
work to lire revolvers, bombs, and crackers, kindle pack- 
ages of colored paper, make profound genuflections before 
the graves, and scatter libations upon them of food and 
liquors. Only the roast pigs were reserved and taken 
home again ; all the rest was scattered about. The din 
and smoke increased apace; the strange -garbed figures 
pranced about like sorcerers, and the decorated pigs 
loomed out with a goblin air. It seemed a veritable 
witches' Sabbath. Some of the fruits and cigars w^ere 
hospitably offered to me as I looked on ; and I will say 
that parsimony does not seem a vice of the Chinaman, 
though he lives upon so little, and is content with mod- 
erate returns. 

Coming back the same way in the evening, I noted 
prowling figures of white men among the graves, gath- 
ering up the fragments cast down by the improvident 

I am glad, on the whole, not to have the mooted Chi- 
nese question to settle in person. On the one hand, a 
great law of political economy — the natural right of man 
to seek happiness where he will ; on the other, a view that 
the best good of a community does not necessarily consist 
in mere size and value of "improvements." The reflect- 
ive mind will find it rather in the greatest average distri- 
bution of comfort. I should say that there have been no 


evils of consequence experienced from the presence of the 
Chinese population as jet. Without them the railroads 
could not have been built, nor the agricultural nor min- 
ing interests developed. With all the complaint, too, of 
competition, the wages of white labor are better here than 
at the East, and the cost of living is certainly not more. 

A proper male costume for San Francisco is humor- 
ously said to be a linen duster with a fur collar. The 
variability of the climate within brief spaces of time is 
thus indicated. It varies largely, in fact, in different 
parts of the same day, though the mean for the year is 
remarkably even. The mean for January — the coldest 
month — is but fifty degrees, and for September — the 
warmest — fifty-eight. It is a famous climate for work, 
but the average temperature, as is seen, is j^retty low for 
comfort. People go away for warmth in the summer 
quite as much as for coolness. The rainy season — the 
winter — is really the pleasantest of the year. The air is 
clearer then, while the prospects are v^erdant and best 
worthy to be seen. At other times fogs prevail, or bleak 
winds arise in the afternoon, and blow dust, in a dreary 
way, into the eyes of all whose misfortune calls them to 
be then in the streets. 

We return to town from our Chinese ceremony along 
wide Point Lobos Avenue, the drive to the Cliff House. 
It is skirted on one side by the public pleasure-ground, 
Golden Gate Park, an area of half a mile by three miles 
and a half, which is being redeemed from an original con- 
dition of drifting sand in a wonderful way. All the outer 
tract near the ocean is as desert and yellow as Sahara. A 
few scattered dwellings appear in the sands, each with its 
water-tank and wind-mill, a yucca-plant or two, and some 
knots of tough grass about it. The city appears on the 
edge of the steep, as if it were looking over in surprise. 




I HAD marked out as a field of travel Southern Cali- 

It is not easy to decide on the instant just what South- 
ern California should be deemed to comprehend. Most of 
the State, leaving out the mining and lumbering districts, 
displays some of those tropical features in which the idea 
of Southernness to the imagination of the temperate cli- 
mates consists. You see orange, fig, and pomegranate 
trees surrounding pleasant homes at Sonoma, well to the 
north of San Francisco. One of the most important dis- 
tricts for raisin-culture is near Sacramento and Marys- 
ville, north-west. At the springs of Caiistoga, seventy- 
five miles north, is found a group of the finest palm-trees 
in California. It is safe to assume, however, that all this 
will be found in the greater perfection as the -low lati- 
tudes are approached. 

San Francisco lies not far from midway of the State, and 
Southern California may conveniently be taken as all that 
part south of the seaport and metropolis. It was upon 
the area just below, around the Bay, that the Eev. Starr 
King lavished his most polished eulogies, describing the 
" flowers by the acre, flowers by the square mile," which 
he saw there, in the spring. To the vicinity of San Jose, 
fifty miles down, Bayard Taylor proposed (if he should 


live to be old, and note his faculties failing) to retire in 
order to renew his youth. And but seventy-five miles 
farther south are the summer resorts — and winter resorts 
as well — of Santa Cruz and Monterey. 

I set out in mid-autumn, the time of the county fairs, 
when the products of an agricultural country should be 
seen to particular advantage. There was held at San 
Jose the combined fair of the counties of Santa Clara 
and Santa Cruz, and that I made my first objective 

There are no means of exit from San Francisco by land 
except to the southward, the long, narrow peninsula on 
which it lies being surrounded on all other sides by water. 
One may cross, however, by ferry to Oakland — the Jersey 
City and Hoboken, as well as Brooklyn, of the place — and 
go around the bay on that side by a road which reaches 
San Jose also. In doing so you traverse Alameda County, 
which raises nearly a million bushels of wheat a year 
from a single township, together with tons of sugar-beets, 
and more hay than any other county in the State. It 
comes third also in rank for grape-vines, and has tropical 
pretensions of its own, making an exhibit of orange and 
lemon trees in certain favored nooks. But the more di- 
rect way is the coast division of the Southern Pacific 
Railway, down the peninsula. 

Let us glance at topography a moment. California is 
fenced off into valleys by two long north and south 
ranges — the Sierra Nevadas, immensely high, and the 
lower Coast Range. These meet in acute points, north 
at Shasta, and south at the Tejon Pass, and become one. 
They enclose between them the vast central space known 
in its upper portion as the Sacramento Yalley, and its 
lower as the San Joaquin Yalley, from the two main riv- 
ers by which it is drained. The granite Sierra Nevadas 





contain the peaks of from thirteen to fifteen tlioiisand feet 
elevation which have obtained an extensive fame in the 
world. The Coast Range, of softer materials, averages 
only from two to six thousand feet. 

The Sierra Nevadas do not greatly divide their strength, 
but the Coast Range throws out frequent spurs parallel 
to itself. These take separate names, as Sierra Morena, 
Santa Clara, and Santa Cruz mountains, and form numer- 
ous long, narrow valleys and benches of table-land be- 
tween themselves and the Pacific Ocean. 

Down the large Santa Clara Yalley, one of those formed 
in this way in the midst of a diversified region, our first 
excursion takes us. 

By the time the files of freight-cars constituting the 
immediate environs of all American cities are passed we 
find ourselves running through a tract of small vegetable 
gardens and windmills. Clusters of buildings in wdiite 
enclosures, that looked from town, on their hills, like 
Mexican haciendas, are "institutions" of various sorts. 
A long arm of San Francisco Bay accompanies us thirty 
miles south, and is seen gleaming to the left, with a wide 
stretch of marsh between. Ark-like structures on piles, at 
intervals along the water's edge, are guard-houses, keeping 
watch over beds of the small California oyster, which has 
never yet been either coaxed or driven into a grandeur com- 
mensurate with the pretensions of everything else about it. 

The conception that has gone out about Southern Cali- 
fornia is that it is an earthly Paradise. I will say at once 
that it is very charming, even in the dry season, but it 
is an earthly Paradise very different from the best idea 
of it one has been able to get by previous investigation. 
I found myself there, in short, in the dry season, and 
most writers have spoken of it only as viewed in the 
season of rains and verdure. 


The guide-book promises, " after a few minutes' ride, 
orchards, vineyards, elegant farm-houses, prospects to 
charm all who love the beauties of nature." But, really 
— one rubs his eyes — where are they ? The ground is 
mournfully bare and brown. Hardly a tree or a bush is 
seen ; not a green blade of grass. At length some small 
trees, a variety of scrub-oaks, at a little distance resem- 
bling the olive ! Farm-houses are few, and not at all 
" elegant." The hills are of the color of camel's hide, 
and not unlike the camel's humps. 

At Millbrae, finally, there is a glimpse of the wooden 
towers, in the American style, of a villa, and a large 
dairy barn. At Belmont the low hills are close at hand. 
At Menlo Park a charming flower-bed is cared for, by 
the track, as at foreign railway -stations. AVe are in 
the chosen site for villa residences of the San Francisco 
millionnaires. The surface is flat, and with its growth of 
oaks recalls the outskirts of Chicago, as at Hyde Park or 

The valley widens till the hills are distant and veiled in 
blue, with tawny grain-fields between ; but still no ver- 
dure! And where are the wild flowers? One hardly 
expects them now " by the acre and by the square mile," 
it is true, since it is autumn ; but of all the primroses, 
the larkspur, the lupin, the poppies of tradition, not one ! 
Not a narcissus! not a chrysanthemum! Oh, my prede- 
cessors! what shall I think of you? 

In the spring the flowers bloom and carpet the earth 
as grass carpets it elsewhere. Speaking of the spring the 
eulogists do not say a word too much. But it is my 
originality to have seen Southern California in the au- 
tumn and winter — as it is for seven months of every 
year, and as it may be, in exceptional seasons, the whole 
year through. 


Not to make a great deal of this bareness and dryness 
would be to neglect a most essential feature. The an- 
nual rains begin in December, January, or February, and 
continue till June, diminishing in May, which is some- 
times itself a dry month. In the autunm the leaves fall 
— what comparatively few there are to fall — as elsewhere, 
and are not renewed. 

''But you set up to be a land of perpetual summer, 
you know," one argues with the Californian, in the first 
state of surprise. 

"So we are," he replies; "but that does not necessari- 
ly mean perpetual verdure. Look at the thermometer! 
look at the fertility of the land ! You have but to run 
water on it by irrigation, and it will do w^iatever you 
please. Contrast this brown season with your own white 
one. The land is dry and easy to get about on, and the 
sky above is uniformly pleasant. Do you prefer your 
fields of sheeted snow, under the howling blasts? your 
quagmires of mud and slush, alternately freezing and 

"Very true," I admit, accepting this different point of 

Then, perhaps, by way of finishing touch, he adds, 
rising to a dignity well justified by the facts, " California 
sets up to be a land of relations, commercial, agricultural, 
mineral, and social, which have made it a power in the 
world. It has revolutionized values, struck the key-note 
of new social conditions, and begun a new commercial 
era. California has arrived at a point where she takes 
her place in the Union on the ordinary terms. We no 
longer depend upon a repute for astounding beauties and 
eccentricities — though of these, too, there is no lack, as 
you will find." 



San Jose, a city of twenty thousand people, contests 
with Sacramento the honor of being third in importance 
in the State. Yon alight there at the small station. In 
the vicinity are a waiting horse-car, a blacksmith's shop, 
and rail-fences painted with advertisements. These have 
a very American look, to begin with, for a place with a 
romantic Spanish name — a place to which yon are recom- 
mended to come in search of the elixir of life. And so 
have the small picket-fences an American look, and the 
comfortable little clapboarded wooden houses behind 
them, with scroll- sawed ornaments in their piazzas. 
With the exception of an unusual number of French 
and Italian names on the sign-boards, and some large, 
clean tuns in fron.t of the shops of dealers in native 
wines, it is as downright a little Yankee town as ever 
was. There is much shade in the streets, and in a pub- 
lic green, but the trees are yet too small and low. 

It is a clean, prosperous city, the centre of a rich agri- 
cultural district. It has excellent schools and all the 
other conveniences of life. A good deal of money has 
been spent on the principal business buildings. As in 
most other provincial towns throughout the State, they 
are much covered with bay-windows, in what might be 
described as the San Francisco style of architecture. An 
iron trestle-work tower was going up at the intersection 
of the tv/o main streets, to rise to a height of two hun- 
dred feet, to contain an electric light and illuminate the 
town. The white Court-house, in the classic style, 
though not large, is agreeably proportioned, and quite 
a model of its kind. 

The week's doing's at the Fair Grounds resolved them- 


selves chiefly into trotting-matclies. I was told that the 
combined display of the two counties was poorer this 
year than either was in the habit of making alone. 
There was racing and ornamental riding, one day, by 
young women, and those who took premiums were girls 
of but fourteen and sixteen. Another popular feature of 
these county fairs was "firemen's tournaments," in which 
different companies held contests of speed, equipped witli 
all their paraphernalia. 

There was but a scattering display of live-stock, and 
little or no fruit. The tw^o-hundred-pound squash, the 
twenty-six-pound turnip, the beet five feet in length and 
a foot through, the apples and pears commensurate with 
these, were not shown. I had seen them before, and did 
not much regret their absence. I have a lurking sus- 
picion that there is a standard of the vegetable as of the 
human race, and that the Tom Thumbs and General 
Bateses of the one are not more fortunate in their de- 
parture from it- than those of the other. 

The capacity of the country to produce fruits, not 
simply of abnormal size, but fine quality — excepting the 
apple, which requires extremes of heat and cold, and 
remains insipid — has, perhaps, been too well tested to 
need competitive exhibitions. What better county fair 
than the daily display of fruits and vegetables in the San 
Francisco market ? The regular season for any and all 
of them is twice as long as on the Atlantic coast at cor- 
responding latitudes. 

I traversed the much-eulogized "Alameda," an avenue 
of willows and poplars, of three miles, set out, in 1799, 
by Spanish friars. These founded a mission among the 
Indians at Santa Clara, to which town the avenue ex- 
tends. There remains at Santa Clara the chapel of the 
mission, with its adobe walls, five feet thick, and flat 


wooden ceiling, rudely painted. It is now a part of a 
flourishing collegiate institution. Across the way is a 
clump of ruinous old adobe cottages of the same date; 
but we are adjured to pay no great heed to these, since 
we are going presently to Monterey, which has, as it 
were, a grand specialty of all that kind of thing. 

The Alameda poplars and willows make but a moder- 
ate showing for their age, and can hardly be rated equal 
to iS"ew^ Haven elms, for instance. Behind them, along 
both sides of the road, are houses of a hoitrgeois comfort, 
as in the town. There are said to be residents of wealth 
and leisure who have been attracted here to pass the re- 
mainder of their days in peace. The Coast Mountains, 
they say, cut off the fogs and winds of the ocean, and a 
higher range on the other side bars out the heats of the 
country eastward. We endeavor to divine, in some su- 
perior refinement of taste and sentiment, the abodes of 
these particular ones. It is a pleasant conception, that 
of coming here to live for the pure physical delight in 
living, and highly interesting. Perhaps their daughters 
will stand by the gates with a certain repining mingled 
with their air of superior distinction, as if they, for their 
part, had not quite so willingly consented to abandon a 
world of larger opportunities. But we do not succeed. 
Some of these residents are simply rude mining men who 
have broken their constitutions in Nevada and Utah; 
and, after all, the desire to live a life of physical con- 
tentment does not imply taste in architecture and land- 
scape gardening. 


One had expected a good deal of novelty and pic- 
turesqueness from these towns, of romantic " San " and 
"Santa," and ''Los" and "Del," and feels rather ag- 


grieved not to get so much of it. Its absence is explained 
in part by the fact that there were rarely original settle- 
ments corresponding to the present names. These are 
taken rather from ranches, springs, or mines in the neigh- 
borhood. On the arrival of the Americans in California 
there were but thirteen thousand Spanish, or Mexicans, 
all told, while the territory was as large as New York, 
Pennsylvania, and the six l^ew England States put to- 

Let us believe that the pleasing designations will act as 
a stimulus, and these communities will live up to their 
names in time, as they never could have done were they 
simply Smithville and Jonesville. 

The impressions at San Jose, and in the country at 
large, resulting from a second visit a month later, were 
more agreeable. Something like the proper point of 
view had then been attained. The face of nature was to 
be parched, and the towns rather commonplace ; but the 
continued cloudlessness of the sky, and quality of the air, 
were more, and the peculiar form of pleasure was settled 
where it belonged. 

The district of villa residences of the millionnaires, 
when penetrated, gained much in attractiveness. There 
are white-oaks and chestnut-oaks, as well as scrub-oaks, in 
groups of a park-like appearance, and live-oaks, Avith long, 
gray Spanish moss depending from them. If there are no 
wild flowers, there are plenty of the cultivated sort, with 
lawns kept green by fountains and hose. Where there is 
water, the winter, or brown season, need never extend. 

As a rule, long stretches of white picket-fence surround 
the places, and the houses themselves are white. 

The bonanza kings have been invested with a greater 
air of magnificence than really belongs to them. Their 
places cost them immense sums, it is true, but a reduction 


should be made to Eastern standards. The outpouring of 
untold millions put up the prices of land, labor, and every 
commodity entering into the result, so that less was ob- 
tained for the money than an equal expenditure would 
have procured here. The Menlo Park district is inferior 
to Llewellyn Park, Englewood, Irvington, and others, in 
the neighborhood of i^ew York. 

The builders have struck out a kind of style of their 
own, perhaps in too great haste to wait for imported 
ideas. The houses are chiefly of wood. Flood, of Flood 
& O'Brien, and " Consolidated Virginia " when the great 
bonanza was struck, had just completed one of great size, 
on an estate of five hundred acres, at Menlo Park. There 
was a terrace, with a fine bronze fountain. The main 
steps were of polished marble with bronze sphinxes, and 
bronze dragons studded the ornate stables — the whole 
glaring, white, and over -gorgeous, like listening to the 
noise of a brass band. 

There are some gentler, more home-like places, and re- 
calling the tone of rural life at the East. Such a one is 
that of ex-Governor Leland Stanford, at Palo Alto. Here 
is a breeding farm for horses, one of the most complete of 
the kind in the world. Of seventeen hundred acres one 
hundred are occupied by stables, barns, and small pad- 
docks, which, at the foot of a gentle rise of ground, make 
a small city by themselves. It is inhabited by a popula- 
tion of nearly five hundred animals, who return hither 
from business, as it were, in the pastures and race-tracks, 
and have two hundred persons employed in their domes- 
tic service. The spacious stables are uniformly floored 
and ceiled up with redwood, strewn with the freshest 
straw, and kept as neat as the most unexceptionable 

Scions of the stock, representing the best thoroughbred 



and trotting strains 
in the country, are 
an important influ- 
ence in improving 
the breed of horses 
throughout the Pa- 
cific slope. It was 
here that the curious 
experiments were 
conducted, at the 
PALO ALTO. expense of Gover- 

nor Stanford, for ar- 
riving at a better understanding of the speed of horses 
by photographing them in motion. The photographer, 
Muybridge, of San Francisco, succeeded, by an ingenious 
arrangement of electrical wires, communicating with cam- 
eras, in securing twelve distinct views of a single stride. 
The attitudes are of the most unexpected sort, and some 
of them even comic. 


From the time of foaling the colts are gently handled, 
and made as familiar with the touch of harness as with 
that of human hands. As a consequence thej are tame, 
gentle, and even affectionate, and never need formal 
breaking. The effect of the system of training has been 
apparent in some notable records of speed. On the Bay 
District Association track, at San Francisco, in 18S0, the 
two-year-old Fred Crocker lowered the record for a one- 
mile trot to 2' 25J''. Last year Bonita, a two-year-old 
filly, cut it down to 2' 2^". At the same trotting exhi- 
bition Wildfiower, another two-year-old, made the mile 
in 2' 21^'; and Hinda Bose, a yearling filly, added to the 
fame of the farm by cutting down the yearling record to 
2' 36i'^ 

The interiors of these fine villas are, as a rule, better 
than the exteriors. The Mills house, at Millbrae, resi- 
dence of a banking and railway magnate, now of New 
York, is a notable collection of iJortVeres and Oriental 
rugs, and bed-chambers done in the finest woods, Avith a 
picture-gallery of works of Gerome, Detaille, and Bou- 
guereau, while from all the windows are vistas of fan- 
palms, flower-beds, greensward, and bronzes. 

Balston's old house, at Belmont, now the property of 
Senator Sharon, is of those of the greatest interest, through 
interest in the remarkable man who built it. Starting 
from humble origin, he rose to be a great capitalist and 
the promoter of brilliant schemes of improvement, both 
public and private. He conducted to success a hundred 
projects which in other hands would have been folly, and 
arrived thus at such an unbounded confidence in his star 
that he thought he could not fail. He was entangled at 
last, however, in schemes beyond his control. Strong and 
athletic, and in the prime of life, he went down to " Harry 
Meigs's" wharf, in San Francisco — almost the very point 


from which his great prototype sailed away to Pera — and 
swam out half a mile into the bay. It was for refresh- 
ment in his troubles, as some say, but, as the general 
opinion is, with the purpose of suicide. At any rate he 
was never seen alive again. 

The house that was his is notched into the hill-side, in 
a rolling country, much pleasanter than the plain at Men- 
lo Park. A pretty gorge behind it is dammed to furnish 
a water-supply. There are gas-works, a bowling-alley, and 
an elaborate Turkish bath among the out-buildings, and 
a grange-like barn of solid stone, ivy-grown, which cost 
$80,000. The immense house is wood, white, in the usual 
fashion, and, with its numerous stories and windows, is 
not unlike a large country hotel. A peculiar arrange- 
ment and great spaciousness give it a palatial air within. 
The principal rooms open into one another by glass par- 
titions, which can be rolled away, so that in large gath- 
erings there need be no crowding through doorways. 
There is an arcade above, around a grand staircase, with 
tribunes projecting, in which young women in colors, at 
an evening party, for instance, would look particularly 
houri-like. What in another house would be the ordi- 
nary veranda is here a delightful promenade, glazed in, 
and provided with easy furniture and a parquetry floor. 
Behind a row of such main apartments as drawing-room 
and library comes a parallel row, of w4iich one is a great 
ball-room, entirely faced with mirrors. Pianos, mantels, 
and stair-posts are of California laurel — a new industry 
encouraged by the owner among many others. 

We drove from Belmont back through a succession of 
cup-like dells in the lower mountains, a number of them 
dammed to form pretty lakes, the sources of supply for 
the Spring Valley Water Company — a corporation of 
great prominence at San Francisco. The slopes at first 



were tawny with grain stubble ; tlien scattered with the 
thick bush known as cliaparral; then bare. We passed 
an occasional lonely farm known as a " milk ranch," 
or '^ chicken ranch." There are no farms in California: 
no matter how small the tract is, it is always a ranch. 

In the strong, warm sunshine chance objects on the 
bare slopes cast intense, purplish shadows. That of a 
distant tree is as dark as if a pit had been dug under it. 
That of a bird, flying low, is followed as distinctly as the 
bird itself. You are reconciled at last to the brown 
tone. It is like Algeria. White stands out in brilliant 
relief against it. One would rather like it to be a dif- 
ferent white, however, than that of the little wooden 
houses. The falconers of Fromentin might career or 
the rival Arab chiefs of Pasini hold conferences among 
such hills. 



It was the pleasant vintage season at San Jose. Santa 
Clara County, of which San Jose is tlie capital, boasts 
of a number of acres of grape-vines under cultivation 
(over eleven thousand) second only to Sonoma County. 
Napa, however, to the north, and Los Angeles, to the 
south, greatly surpass it in gallons of wine and brandy 

I visited, among others, the Le Franc vineyard, which 
dates from 1851, and is the pioneer in making wine-grow- 
ing a regular industry. Here are about a hundred and 
seventy-five thousand vines, set out a thousand, perhaps, 
to the acre. The large, cheerful farm buildings are upon 
a gentle rise of ground above the area of vines, which is 
nearly level. An Alsacian foreman showed us through 
the wine-cellars. A servant-maid bustling about the 
yard was a thorough French peasant, only lacking the 
wooden shoes. The long tables, set for the forty hands 
employed in the vintage-time, were spread with viands 
in the French fashion. Scarcely a word of English was 

At other places the surroundings are as exclusively 
Italian or Portuguese. One feels very much abroad in 
such scenes on American soil. The foreigners from 
Southern Europe take naturally to wine-making and go 


into it, from the few hundred gallons of red wine made 
by the Portuguese and Italian laborers for their own 
families, to the manufacture of an American champagne 
on a large scale by the Hungarian, Arpad Haraszthy, at 
San Francisco. The Americans, who have not acquired 
the habit of looking upon wine as a necessity in the 
family, are not yet, as a rule, very active in its produc- 

A certain romantic interest attaches to this ancient in- 
dustry. The great tuns in the wine-cellars and all the 
processes were very clean. It was re-assuring to see the 
pure juice of the grape poured out in such floods, and to 
feel that here was no need — founded on scarcity, at least 
— for adulteration. 

Teeming loads of the purple fruit were driven up, and 
across a weighing scale. The contents are lifted to an 
upper story, put into a hopper, where the stems come 
off, and the grapes fall through to a crusher. They are 
lightly crushed at first. It is something of a discovery 
that the earliest product of grapes of every hue is white 
wine. The red wine gets its hue from the coloring mat- 
ter in the skins, which are utilized in a subsequent ruder 

I shall not enter upon all the various processes — the 
racking off, clarifying, and the like — though, so much in 
the company of those who spoke with authority and were 
continually holding up little glasses to the light with 
a gusto, like figures in popular chromes, I consider 
myself to yield in knowledge of such abstruse matters 
to none. Immense upi'ight casks, containing a warm, 
audibly fermenting mass, and others lying down, neatly 
varnished, with concave ends, are the most salient feat- 
ures in the dimly lighted wine-cellars. 

They are not cellars, properly so called, either, since 




they are wholly above -ground. The casks rest on 
wooden sills upheld by short brick posts. In tlie cellars 
of General Naglee, a successful maker of brandy on a 
larere scale, the cobwebs have been allowed to increase 
and hang like tattered banners. Through these the light 
penetrates dimly from above, or with a white glare from 
a latticed window, upon which the patterns of vine- 
leaves without are defined. The buildings are brown, 
gray, and vine-clad, with quaint, Dutch-pavilion-looking 
roofs, and dove-cotes attached. A lofty water-tank, with 
a wind-mill — a feature of "every California rural home- 
stead — here is more tower-like than usual. 

Round about extend long avenues of eucalyptus, pine, 
tamarind, with its black, dry pods ; the pepper-tree, with 
its scarlet berries; large clumps of the noixil cactus, and 
an occasional maguey, or century-plant. All is glowing 
now with the tints of autumn. Poplar and cottonwood 
are yellow. The peach and almond, the Lawton black- 
berry, and the vineyards themselves, touched by frost, 
supply the scarlet and crimson. The country seems 
bathed in a fixed sunshine, or in hues of its own wines. 

The vines, themselves short and stout, and needing no 
support, yield each an incredible number of purple clus- 
ters, all growing from the top. They quaintly suggest 
the uncouth little men of Hendrik Hudson who stagger 
up the mountain, in "Rip Van Winkle," with kegs of 
spirits on their shoulders. 

No especial attention is given to the frosts now, but 
those of the early spring are the object of many precau- 
tions. The most effectual is to kindle smudge-fires about 
the vineyard toward four o'clock in the morning, the 
smoke of which envelops it and keeps it in a warmer 
atmosphere of its own till the sun be well risen. 

Three to four tons of grapes to the acre arc counted 




upon ; while farther south, where irrigation is used, they 
expect from eight to twelve. But it is claimed, in the 
standing controversy on the subject, that the irrigated 
grapes are watery, while those of lesser yield excel them 
in quality. The best results, we were told, are got from 
such vines as the Mataro, Carignane, and Grenache, im- 
ported cuttings from the French slope of the Pyrenees. 
There were at Le Franc's not less than sixty varieties, 
under probation, many of which will, no doubt, give an 
excellent account of themselves. They are assembled 
from Greece, Italy, Palestine, and the Canary Islands, so 
that we have all the chances of the development of 
something suited to our peculiar conditions. 


I left San Jose to drive along the dry, shallow bed of 
the Guadalupe River to the Guadalupe Quicksilver Mine, 
a more remote and less visited companion of well-known 
New Almaden. The mine is in a lovely little vale, with 
a settlement of Mexican and Chinese boarding-houses 
clustered around it. Some bold ledges of rock jut out 
above, and a superintendent's house surrounded by flowers 
hangs upon the hill-side. A weird-looking flume conveys 
the sulphurous acid from the calcining furnaces to a hill- 
top, upon which every trace of vegetation has been blasted 
by its poisonous exhalations. 

Then I made a little tour by rail southward through 
the immense " Murphy " and " Miller and Lux " ranches, 
comprising a grain country as flat as a floor. 

We turned west through the fertile little Pajaro Val- 
ley, the emporium of which for produce, and fine red- 
wood lumber, cut in great quantities on the adjoining 
Santa Cruz Mountains, is the thrivino^ town of Watson- 



ville. We ran along a rugged coast, past wooded gorges 
and white sea-side cottages, at Aptos and Soquel, to the 
much-freqnented resort of Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz lias 
bold variations of level, the nsual commonplace buildings, 
a noble drive along; cliffs eaten into a hundred fantastic 


shapes by the waves, and shops for the sale of shells, and 
its summer boarders, who become, with change of seasons, 
winter boarders in turn. Thence finally to the long-an- 
ticipated Monterey. 

Here at last w^as something to commend from the point 
of view of the picturesque without reservation. Mont- 
erey has a population wdiich still, in considerable part, 
speaks Spanish only. It retains the impress of the Span- 
ish domination, and little else. When you are told in 
your own country that somebody does not speak English, 
you naturally infer that it is brokenly, or only a little. 


But at Monterey it means absolutely not a word. There 
are Spanish signs on the shops, and even Spanish adver- 
tisements, as, for instance, the Wheeler db Wilson Maqui- 
nas d Coser^ on the fences. 

Mj Mexican experience was a liberal education for 
Monterey, and I made the most of it. I was taken to 
call upon an ancient senorita^ in whose history there was 
some romance. 

^^Las Tosas son muy secas^^ — (" The roses are very dry ") 
she said, apologetically, as we entered her little garden, 
laid out in regular parallelograms, behind an adobe wall 
topped with red tiles. Large yellow and red roses were 
blowing to pieces in the wind before her long, low adobe 

She was one of those who spoke no English. It seems 
as if there were some wilful perversity in it, after having 
been since 1846 a part of the most bustling State of the 
most active country in the world. It seems as if it must 
be some lingering hatred of the American. But the 
senorita is far too gentle for that. There is, perhaps, no 
reason beyond a general mental inertness by virtue of 
which the Mexican survivors have suffered all their other 
interests as well as this to go by the board. 

The senorita is a little, thin old lady of fifty. Her ro- 
mance was with an American officer, it is said, thirty 
years ago, and she has never since married, but has with- 
ered, like her roses, at Monterey. 

As seen from a distance, scattered loosely and white 
on the forest-crested slope of the fine bay, the little city, 
which has now perhaps two thousand inhabitants, does not 
show its unlikeness to other places. But when entered 
it consists almost exclusively of whitewashed adobe houses, 
and the straggling, mud-colored walls of enclosures, for 
animals, known as "corrals." Many of them are vacant. 


At frequent 
intervals is 
too some 

barracks, or 
gov^ernment house, or military prison of historic fame, 
with its whitewash gone, holes in its walls, and bits of 
broken grating and balcony hanging aimlessly on, wait- 
ing only the first opportunity to let go. 

The travellers of my youth had a fashion of talking 
glibly of adobe, without explaining what adobe was. Let 
me not be guilty of the same error. Adobe is bricks 
made of about twice the usual size, and dried in the sun 
instead of being baked. Walls are made of great thick- 


ness, in order that, though outside and inside crumble off, 
there may be a good deal left. Like a number of other 
things, it stands very well while not assailed; and in this 
climate it is rarely assailed by violent extremes of tem- 

The typical adobe house of the best class is stuccoed 
and whitewashed. It is large on the ground, two stories 
in height, and has verandas. Again, it is of but one story, 
with an interior court-yard. It has green doors and shut- 
ters, and green, turned posts, in what we now call the 
'' Queen Anne style," and it is comfortable and home- 
like to look at. 

One of them contains the first piano ever introduced 
into California, and the owners are people who made haste 
to sell out their all at San Francisco and invest it here, in or- 
der to reap the greater prosperity which was thought to be 
waiting upon Monterey. Two old iron guns stand planted 
as posts at the corners of the dwelling. In front of others 
are some walks neatly made of the verterbrse of whales, 
taken by the Monterey Whaling Company. The com- 
pany is a band of hardy, weather-beaten men, chiefly Por- 
tuguese, of the Azores, who have a lookout station on the 
hill by the ruined fort, and a barracks lower down. They 
pursue their avocation from the shore in boats, with 
plenty of adventure and no small profit. 

Monterey, which is now not even a county seat, was 
the Spanish capital of the province from the time it was 
thought necessary to have a capital. The missionary fa- 
ther, Junipero Serra, came here from Mexico in the year 
1770. It was next a Mexican capital under eleven suc- 
cessive governors. Then it became the American capital, 
the first port of entry, the scene of the first Constitutional 
Convention of the State, and an outfitting point for the 
southern mines. Money in those early days was so 



plenty, I have heard tell, that store -keepers hardly 
stopped to count it, but threw it under the counter in 

A secret belief in the ultimate revival of Monterey 
seems always to survive in certain quarters, like that in 
the reappearance of Barbarossa from the Kylfhauser 
Berg, or the restoration of the Jews. Breakwaters have 
been ambitiously talked of, and it is said that the bay 
could be made a harbor and shipping-point and the rival 
of San Francisco. 

The only step toward such revival as yet is a fine hotel, 
built by the Southern Pacific railroad, which may make 
it, instead of Santa Cruz, across the Bay, the leading sea- 
side resort. TJioiiofh not so o-randiose a direction as some 
others, this is really the one in which the peculiar condi- 
tions of the old capital are most likely to tell. The sum- 
mer boarder can get a tangible pleasure out of its historic 
remains and traditions of greatness, though they be good 
for nothing else. The Hotel del Monte is a beautiful 
edifice, not surpassed by that of any American watering- 
place, and unequalled in the charming groves of live-oak 
and pine and profusion of cultivated flowers by which it 
is surrounded, and the air of comfort combined with its 
elesrant arrano^ements. 

This is the way with our friends of the Pacific coast. 
If they do not always stop to follow Eastern ideas and 
patterns, when they really attempt something in the same 
line, they are as likely as not to do it a great deal better. 

The climate at Monterey, according to statistical tables, 
is remarkably even. The mean temperature is 52° in 
January and 58° in July. This strikes one as rather cool 
for bathing, but the mode is to bathe in the tanks of a 
large bath-house, to which sea- water is introduced, arti- 
ficially warmed, instead of in the sea itself. 




In other respects the place seems nearly as desirable at 
one time of the year as another. The qnaint town is 
always there ; and the wild rocks, with their gossiping 
gulls and pelicans; and the drives through the extensive 
forests. There are varieties of pine and cypress— the 
latter like the Italian stone-pine— peculiar to Monterey. 


The more venerable trees, hoary with age and hanging 
moss, are contorted into all the fantastic shapes of Dore's 
" Inferno." They grow by preference on the most savage 
points of rock, and the wild breakers toss handfuls of 
spray up to them high in the air, in amity and greeting. 

Along the beach on this far-away point of the Pacific 
Ocean we find a Chinese fishing settlement. Veritable 
Celestials, without a word of English among them, have 
pasted the usual crimson papers of hieroglyphics on shan- 
ty residences. They burn tapers before their gods on the 
quay, and fish for a living in just such junks and small 
boats as may be seen at Hong-Kong and Canton. They 
prepare avallonia meat and avallonia shells for their home 
market. One had rather thought of the Chinese element 
as confined to San Francisco alone, but it is a feature of 
quaint interest throughout all of Southern California. 

At Monterey is found an old mission of the delight- 
fully ruinous sort. It is in the little Carniel Yalley, 
which is bare and brown again, after the green woods 
are passed, four miles from the town. The mission fa- 
thers once had here ninety thousand cattle, and other 
things to correspond. There are now only some vestiges, 
resembling earth -works, of their extensive adobe walls, 
and, on a rise overlooking the sea, the yellowish, low, 
rococo church of San Carlos. 

The Mexican traditions in design and proportion ac- 
companied them here, but the workmanship as they went 
farther from home became curiously rude, and speaks of 
the disadvantages under w^iich it was done. A dome of 
concrete on the bell-tower is unequally bulged ; a star win- 
dow in the front has very irregular points. The interior 
does not yield, as a picture of sentimental ruin, to Muck- 
ross Abbey or any broken temple of the Eoman Cam- 
pagna. The roof, open now to the sky, with grasses and 



wild mustard growing from its crevices, was of stone 
arches, supplemented with timber-work tied with raw- 
hides. The whole body of the church — pilasters, capi- 
tals, frieze, and all — is set on a curve springing from 
the floor — a peculiarity I have never seen elsewhere. 


There are grasses growing within, sculptured stones 
tumbled down, vestiges of a tile pavement, tombs, bits 
of fresco, and over all the autograph scribblings of a 
myriad of A. B. Smiths and J. B. Joneses, visitors here 
in their time like ourselves. 


Once a year, on St. Charles's-day, in early November, 
a memorial service is held, attended by all the shabby 
Spanish -Indian life remaining in the conntry round 
about. The place is unique. It seems even more lone- 
ly than ruins of the same kind in the mother country, 
through standing amid surroundings of such a different 
class. Nothing is more conducive to pensiveness of a 
pleasant kind than, lying within this ruined enclosure, to 
watch the waving in the wind of the long grasses on its 
walls and listen to the plash of the sea on the shore, but 
a few steps distant. 





The Yosemite, currently spoken of as the " Yalley," is 
comprised in the belt formed by drawing lines across the 
State from San Francisco and Monterey respectively. It 
is a wild, strange nook among the Sierras, one of the 
few places not only not disappointing, but worthy of far 
more praise than has ever been bestowed npon it. It is 
like one of those mysterious regions on the outskirts of 
the fairy-land of the story-books — a standing resource of 
adventure to all the characters who enter it, and it is 
proper enongh that our earthly Paradise of Southern 
California should have such a region of enchantment 
also adjoining it. 

I reached it by stage- ride of sixty miles, from the South- 
ern Pacific Pailroad, at Madera, to Clark's Station, and 
thence by stage and horseback of twenty-iive miles to the 
Valley. The autumn days were lovely there. The foli- 
age, turned by a local climate quite as severe as that of 
New England, glowed with a vivid richness. The Mer- 
ced Piver, a gentle stream, pursuing a devious way in 
the bottom, which is as level as a floor, reflected the 
color from many a mirror-like pool and sudden bend. 
Walls of rock rise on either hand to an elevation of 
three-quarters of a mile, varying from one-half to one- 


eighth of a mile in width. It is rather a chasm than a 
valley. At night the radiance of a full yellow moon in- 
vested all its wonders with an added enchantment. The 
cliffs are exactly what w^e think cliffs ought to be, but 
what they seldom are. They are of the hardest granite, 
pleasantly gray in color, and terminate in castle and dome 
like forms. The precipices are sheer and unbroken to the 
base, with almost none of those slopes of debris that de- 
tract from precipices in general. It is a little valley suit- 
able, without a hair's-breadth alteration, to the purposes 
of any giant, enchanter, or yellow dwarf of them all. It 
is such scenery as Dore has imagined for the "Idyls of 
the King." One half feels himself a Sir Lancelot or Sir 
Gawain, riding along this lovely and majestic mountain 
trail; and as if he should w^ear chain-armor, a winged hel- 
met, and a sword upon which he had sworn to do deeds 
of redoubtable valor. 

It was the coast valleys and some coast toW'Us that we 
took on our first journey. This time we have come down 
the main line of the Southern Pacific Railway through 
the central plain of the State. The railway is traced 
along the great central valley known as the San Joa- 
quin, on a line nearly midway between the Sierra JS'eva- 
das and the Coast Range. 

The road is still comparatively new, and the settlements 
have attained no great dimensions. It did not as a rule 
touch at the older towns existing, but pursued a direct 
course through a country where all had to be opened up. 
As some of the places passed by were of considerable 
size no little dissatisfaction ensued, and the mutterings 
are still heard. Frequent mention of this grievance 
is heard by the traveller through Southern California. 
Some of the neglected places even maintain that they 
would have been better without any railroad at all. Ref- 


erences are thrown out to former glories of a dazzling 
sort which it is sometimes difficult to credit, though a 
railroad naturally effects great innovations in trade. To 
the ordinary observer it would appear that the introduc- 
tion of a splendidly equipped railway, even if it distribute 
its blessings a little unequally at first, and its tariff be 
high, must be a great and permanent advantage to every- 
thing remote as well as near. For the first tin:ie an ade- 
quate means has been afforded for the transport of im- 
migrants and supplies through the whole length of the 

The Southern Pacific Railway has completed connec- 
tions which give it a transcontinental route from San 
Francisco, across Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas, to 
New Orleans. Immigrants are to be brought in by 
steamer from Liverpool to New Orleans, and thence by 
rail at a rate not to exceed that to the central West. The 
fares to California heretofore have been almost prohibi- 
tive, which is one of the reasons why so rich a country 
contains as yet less than a million of people. The languid 
movement hither of the valuable class of immigration 
which pours into the West, though ascribed by some 
alarmists to the presence of the Chinese, is due to the 
cost of travel and the lack of cheap lands for settle- 
ment. The Chinese are certainly not rivals in the mat- 
ter of land, since they acquire little or none of it. 

The new opportunities opened to transportation, the 
depression of the mining interest, and rapid increase of 
the Chinese, have awakened of late an exceptional inter- 
est in white immigration. A committee of some of the 
most prominent persons in the State has opened an in- 
quiry into the most effectual means of promoting it. It 
will no doubt set forth more clearly than has ever been 
done before an account of such territory as is open to set- 


tiers, whether offered by the government, tlie raih'oads, 
or the great ranches, its advantages and the methods of 
reaching it. 

It seems a little singular at first tliat lack of suitable 
lands can be adduced as a reason for lack of population in 
so vast a region, with the climate and other natural advan- 
tages of which so much has been said. It can only be un- 
derstood b}^ taking into account the unusual atmospheric 
dryness, and the important part played by water, which 
lias to be brought upon the soil by costly contrivances. 
The locations where there is sufficient natural moisture 
for the maturing of crops are of small extent. They were 
among the first taken up. In much of the central and 
southern portions of the State the annual rain-fall is 
almost infinitesimal in quantity. At Bakersville, the 
capital of Kern County — whither our joiii-ney presently 
leads us — it is no more than from two to four inches. 
Light crops of grain and pasturage for stock may occa- 
sionally be got even under these conditions, but the only 
certain reliance is irrigation. 

The springs and small streams were early appreciated 
at their value, and seized upon by persons who controlled 
with them great tracts of surrounding country, valueless 
except as watered from these sources. These tributary 
tracts are used chiefly as cattle and sheep ranges. A per- 
son owning five thousand acres will often have for his 
stock the free run of twenty thousand more. Cultivation 
is confined to the springs and water-courses, and becomes 
a succession of charming oases in a desert the superficial 
sterility of which is phenomenal. 

The tenure of land by thousands of acres under a sin- 
gle ownership is a tradition from the Spanish and Mexi- 
can times. It has been much decried, as a great evil, and 
it is said that the State would be much more prosperous 


in a series of small farms. This is probably true, and the 
system as it exists may be ascribed in part to the greed 
of individuals, but it arises principally out of the natural 
features of the country. The wealth of the large holders 
alone enables them to undertake works of improvement, 
such as canal-making, drainage, and tree-planting, on an 
effectual scale. Perhaps the State will have to lend its 
assistance, and establish a public system of irrigation and 
drainage, before the land can be fully prepared for the 
small settler. 

Water ! water ! water ! How to slake the thirst of this 
parched, brown country, and turn it over to honest toil 
and thrift, is the great problem as we go southward, and 
the processes of irrigation are the most distinctive marks 
upon the landscape wherever it is improved. 


It is in early November that we begin to traverse the 
long San Joaquin Valley from Lathrop Junction, just be- 
low Stockton, southward. The side tracks of the railroad 
are crowded with platform-cars laden with wheat for the 
sea-board. The "elevator" system is not yet in use, and 
the grain is contained in sacks for convenient handling. 

Hereabouts are some of the most famous wheat ranch- 
es, A man will plough but a single furrow a day on his 
farm, but this may be twenty miles long. There is suffi- 
cient rain-fall for the cereals, but not for the more exact- 
ing crops. The land gives but few bushels to the acre 
under the easy system of farming, but it must be remem- 
bered that there are a great many acres. The stubble of 
the grain-fields is whitened with wild-fowl. At a way- 
station a small rustic in an immense pair of boots goes 
over to a ])ool and blazes away with a shot-gun. Pres- 


ently he returns, dragging by the necks an immense pair 
of wild-geese, almost beyond his strength to pull. The 
tawny color of the fields, and the great formal stacks of 
straw piled up in them, recall some aspects of the central 
table-land of Mexico. Many or spacious buildings are 
not necessary in the mild, dry climate of California. 
The prosperous ranches have, in consequence, a some- 
what thin, unfurnished appearance compared w4tli East- 
ern farms. 

The most prominent object at each station is a long, 
low warehouse of the company, for the accommodation of 
grain. Like the station buildings generally it is painted 
Indian red, in " metallic " paint. The station of Merced 
is one of the two principal points of departure for the 
Yosemite Yalley, Madera the other. At Merced an im- 
mense wooden hotel, for travellers bound to the Yalley, 
overshadows the rest of the town. It rises beside the 
track, and the town is scattered back on the plain. 

At Madera appears the end of a Y-shaped wooden 
aqueduct, or flume, for rafting down lumber from the 
mountains fifty miles away to a planing-mill. Some of the 
hands also occasionally come down the flume in temporary 
boats. As the speed is prodigious these voyages abound 
in excitement and peril. The structure, supported on 
trestles, according to the formation of the ground, stretch- 
es away in interminable perspective to the mountains, 
which are rose-pink and purple at sunset. The scene is 
suggestive of the Koman Campagna, with this slight, es- 
sentially American work as a parody of the broken aque- 
ducts and temples of the classic ancients. The lumber 
flume, however, is a bold and costly enterprise, though 
we be prone to smile at it. 

By degrees we draw away from the wheat ranches, 
more and more on the uncultivated plain. The town 



of Fresno, two hundred niiles below San Francisco, and 
about midway between two important streams, the San 
Joaquin and Kings Rivers, is in the midst of a particu- 
larly desolate tract, known, up to a very recent period, as 
the San Joaquin Desert. One should alight here. There 
is no better place for examining the marvellous capabili- 
ties of a soil which appears at first sight inhospitable to 
the last degree. Fresno is in the hands of enterprising 
persons, who push and advertise it very actively. We 
heard at San Francisco of the Fresno Colony, the Central 
Colony, American Colony, Scandinavian Colony, Tem- 
perance Colony, Washington Colony, and others of simi- 
lar names clustered around Fresno. It is advertised as 
one of those genial places, alluring to the imagination of 
most of us, w^here one can sit down under his own vine 
and fig-tree, secure from the vicissitudes of climate, and 
find a profitable occupation open to him in the cultiva- 
tion of the soil, and all at a moderate cost. 

The aspect of things on alighting is very different from 
what had been expected, but all the substantial advantages 
claimed seemed realized, and the process of founding a 
home may be witnessed in all its stages. 

The town has a population of two thousand, most of 
which it has gained in the past five years. It is set down 
on the east side of the railroad highway, -with a thin scat- 
tering of foliage slightly veiling the formality of its lines. 
It consists of a few streets of two-story wooden and brick 
buildings. The streets cross one another at right angles, 
and have planked sidew^alks. A slight eminence above 
the general level is the site of the County Court-house, 
which somewhat resembles an Italian villa in design, and 
has Italian cj^presses in front. The court-houses of half a 
dozen counties down the line, from Modesto, the capital 
of Stanislaus, to Eakersfield, capital of Kern, are identical 




in pattern, so that it is both typical of its kind and evi- 
dence of an economical spirit. 

A sharp distinctness of outline is characteristic of these 
cities of the plain. Separated from the main part of 
Fresno bj the railroad, as by a wide boulevard, is a row 
of low wooden houses and shops, as clearly cut out against 


the desert as bathing-bouses on a beach. This is the Chi- 
nese quarter. It tells at a glance the story of the pecu- 
liar people who tenant it : the social ostracism on the one 
hand, and their own indomitable clannishness on the 

There is now hardly any hamlet so insignificant, even 
in the wastes of Arizona, that the Chinese have not pene- 
trated it, in search of labor and opportunities. Every 
settlement of the Pacific slope has its Chinese quarter, as 
mediaeval towns had their Ghetto for the Jews. It is not 
always without the place, as at Fresno ; but, wherever it 
be, it constitutes a close corporation and a separate unit. 
In dress, language, and habits of life it adheres to Ori- 
ental tradition with all the persistence the new conditions 
will admit. 

The Celestials do not introduce their own architecture, 
and they build little but shanties. They adapt what they 
find to their own purposes, as has been said, distinguish- 
ing them with such devices that the character of the 
dwellers within cannot be mistaken. 

A great incongruity is felt between the little Yankee 
wooden dwellings and the tasselled lanterns, gilded signs, 
and hieroglj^phics upon red and yellow papers with which 
they are profusely overspread. Here Ah Coon and Sam 
Sing keep laundries like the Chinese laundry the world 
over. Yuen Wa advertises himself as a contractor for 
laborers. Hop Ling, Sing Chong, and a dozen others 
have miscellaneous stores. In their windows are junk- 
shaped slippers, opium pipes, bottles of sahi, rice-brandy, 
dried fish, goose livers, gold and silver jewelry, and pack- 
ets of face-powder and hair ornaments for the women. 
The pig-tailed merchants themselves sit within, on odd- 
looking chests and budgets, and gossip in animated cackle 
with customers, or figure up their profits gravely in 


brown-paper books, with a brush for a pen. Women 
— much more numerous in proportion to the men than 
is commonly supposed — occasionally waddle by. Their 
black hair is very smoothly greased, and kept in place by 
long silver pins. They wear wide jackets and pantaloons 
of a cheap black " paper cambric," which increase the nat- 
ural awkwardness of their short and ungainly figures. 

Up-stairs, in unpainted, cobwebby, second stories, are 
the joss-houses. Here hideous but decorative idols grin 
as serenely as if in the centre of their native Tartary, and 
as if there were no spires of little Baptist and Methodist 
meeting-houses rising indignantly across the way. Pas- 
tilles burn before the idols, and crimson banners are 
draped about ; and there are usually a few pieces of an- 
tique bronze upon which the eye of the connoisseur rests 

Other interiors are cabarets, which recall those of the 
French working-classes. A boisterous animation reigns 
within. The air is thick with tobacco-smoke of the pecu- 
liar Chinese odor. Games of dominoes are played with 
magpie-like chatter by excited groups around long, wood- 
en tables. Most of those present wear the customary blue 
cotton blouse and queer little black soft hat, and all have 
queues, which either dangle behind or are coiled up .like 
the hair of women. Some, however — teamsters, perhaps 
here only temporarily — are dressed in the slop clothing 
and cowhide boots of ordinary white laborers. 

The Chinamen are servants in the camps, the ranches, 
and the houses of the better class, track-layers and section 
hands on the railroad, and laborers in the factories and 
fields. What Southern California, or California gener- 
ally, could do without them it is difficult to see. They 
seem, for the most part, capable, industrious, honest, and 
neat. One divests himself rapidly of the prejudice against 


them with which he may have started. Let us hope that 
laborers of the better class, by whom they are to be suc- 
ceeded, may at least have as many praiseworthy traits. 

The town of Fresno is as yet chiefly a supply and market 
point for the numerous colonies by which it is environed. 
These colonies straggle out in various directions, begin- 
ning within a mile or two of the town. The intervening 
land still lies in its natural condition for settlement. It 
is difficult to convey an idea of its seemingly hopeless 
barrenness. Instead of complaining of dry grass here one 
would be grateful for a blade of grass of any kind. The 
surface is as arid as that of a gravelled school-yard. It is 
even worse, for it is undermined with holes of gophers, 
owls, jack-rabbits, and squirrels. To ride at any speed is 
certain to bring one to grief through the entangling of his 
horse's legs in these pitfalls. As the traveller passes there 
is a scampering on all sides. Tlie gray squirrels speed for 
their holes with flying leaps, the jack-rabbits with kanga- 
roo-like bounds. They run toward us, if they chance to 
have been absent from home in an opposite direction. 
Not one considers himself safe from our clearly malicious 
designs till he has dived headlong into his own proper 

Here and there are tracts white with alkali. Flakes of 
this substance, at once bitter and salt to the taste, can be 
taken up in an almost pure condition. Elsewhere we pass 
through tracts of wild sunflower — a tall weed, charming 
in flower, but now thoroughly desiccated, and rattling to- 
gether like dry bones. 

This description applies, for the greater part of the 
year, not only to Fresno, but in an almost equal degree 
to Bakersfield, Los Angeles, and nearly the whole of 
Southern California. Without it the wonders which 
have been produced by human agency could not be un- 


derstood. The face of nature in all this district was a 
blank sheet of paper. The cultivator had absolutely 
everything to* do. He discovered on trial that lie had a 
soil of remarkable capacity, and, with the aid of water 
and the genial climate, he could draw from it whatever 
he pleased. 

Water is the salvation of the waste places, and makes 
the desert blossom like the rose. One's respect for this 
pleasant element is, if possible, increased upon seeing 
what it is here capable of. It seems that, if used with 
sufficient art, it might almost draw a crop from cast-iron. 
The vegetation of Southern California is thoroughly arti- 
ficial. It consists of a series of scattered plantations cre- 
ated by the use of water. In these the traveller finds his 
flowers, palms, vineyards, and orange groves, and, burying 
himself among them, like the ostrich with its head in the 
sand, he may refuse briefly to recognize that there is 
anything else ; but, as a matter of fact, only a small be- 
ginning has been made. What has been done, however, 
is an earnest of what can be done. It is found that, 
as irrigation is practised, the land stores up part of the 
water, and less is needed each year. In wells, too, the 
water is found nearer the surface, proving that the soil 
acts as a natural reservoir. As time goes on, and canals 
and vegetation increase, no doubt important climatic 
changes may be looked for. In the end Southern Cal- 
ifornia may be as different from what it is at present as 
can be imagined. 

The several Fresno colonies for the most part join one 
another, and form a continuous belt of cultivation. On 
entering their confines the change is most agreeable. 
Close along-side the desert, the home of the gopher and 
jack-rabbit, only separated from it by a narrow ditch of 
running water, are lovely vineyards, orchards of choice 


fruits, ornamental flowers and shrubs, avenues of shade- 
trees, fields of corn, and green pastures of the alfalfa, a 
tall and strong clover, which gives half a dozen crops a 
year. Embowered among these are the homes of happy 
families, larger establishments for the drying of fruits 
and converting the munificent crops of grapes into wine. 
Many of the homes are as yet but modest wooden cot- 
tages. Others, of a better class, are of adobe, treated in 
an ornamental way, with piazzas and Gothic gables. 

The most important residence is that of a late meniber 
of the San Francisco Stock Board, who has gone into the 
cultivation of grapes here on a large scale. It is a hand- 
some villa that would do credit to any town. The im- 
provements of the Barton place were in but an incipient 
state at the time of our visit. A great array of young 
vines brightened the recently sterile soil, but timidly and 
as if not quite certain of approval. Young orange and 
lemon trees in the door-yard were mufifted in straw till they 
should have gained a greater hardihood to withstand the 
frosts. Elsewhere water was being run out from irrigat- 
ing ditches over fields in preparation for the first time. 
It is the custom to soak them, in order that they may be 
perfectly levelled. Knolls or any other inequalities must 
not be left to hinder the equal distribution of water to the 
crop. A wide canal stretched back from the numerous 
out-buildings toward the horizon. On the verge of the 
wide plain showed the blue Sierras, veiled by a slight 
chronic dustiness of the atmosphere. 

In the more established portions of the colonies some 
charming bits of landscape are found. The Chinese farm- 
hand wears a blue blouse and a wide basket-hat which he 
calls mow. He pronounces this hat " heap good " if com- 
plimented upon it. He prunes the vines or collects the 
generous clusters of grapes ; or else he digs a vegetable 




garden by the side of a canal, in which himself, his vege- 
tables, his cabin, a row of poplar-trees, and the blue sky 
overhead are all reflected together. Poplars, willows, and 
cottonwoods are planted along the canals to strengthen 
their banks. At Eisen's w^ine-raaking place, for a consid- 
erable distance, oleanders in flower are seen spaced be- 
tween the trees. The water runs clear and swift. At 
Eisen's it turns a mill. !N"o doubt devices for bathing in 
it might also be contrived if desired. 

The long, symmetrical lines of trees have a foreign, or 
at least un-American, air. It is not difiicult to recall to 
mind the mulberries and elms that bend over the irrigat- 
ing canals of Northern Italy and drop their yellow leaves 
upon them in autumn like these. It might be Lombardy 
again, and the glimpses of distant blue the Alps instead 
of the Sierras. The locks and gates for the water are of 
an ephemeral structure as yet, made of planking instead 
of substantial brick and stone. The smaller ditches are 
often stopped with mere bits of board let down into 
grooves, instead of gates with handles. It is urged, how- 
ever, that handles offer inducement to idlers to lift them 
up out of pure mischief, and waste the water. 

The colonies are not quite colonies in the usual sense ; 
that is to say, they were not founded by persons who com- 
bined together and came at one and the same time. The 
lands they occupy were distributed into parcels by an 
original owner, and, after being provided with water fa- 
cilities by an irrigation companj^, put upon the market at 
the disposal of whoever would buy. E^o doubt a certain 
general consistency rules them in keeping with the names 
respectively set up, but it is not rigorous. Probably noth- 
ing need prevent a native American from joining the 
Scandinavian Colony, or a Scandinavian the American 
Colony, should he desire to do so. 


As to the Temperance Colony, it must be sorely tried 
in a locality the most liberal and profitable yield of which 
is the wine grape. It seems hardly a propitious place to 
have chosen. Scoffers say that in some instances while 
settlers will not make wine themselves they will sell their 
grapes to the wine-making establishments. This I merely 
note as " important, if true." 

The standard twenty-acre lot, as prepared for market at 
Fresno, has its main irrigating ditch, of perhaps four feet 
in width, connecting with the general irrigating system. 
For twelve and a half dollars a year it receives a water- 
right entitling it to the use of whatever water it may 
need. The buyer must make his own minor ditches, and 
prepare his ground from this point. He usually aims to 
establish in his fields a number of slightly differing levels, 
that the water may be led to one after the other. For 
ground in the preliminary condition described about fifty 
dollars per acre is demanded. Most of the earlier settlers 
bought for less, and the price named strikes one as high, 
considering the newness of the country, and the excellent 
farming land to be had in the older parts of the country 
for less. Prices are less here, however, than at Los An- 
geles, Riverside, or San Diego, farther south. 

It is argued in answer to objectors that though land be 
not nominally it is really cheap, in consideration of its ex- 
traordinary productivenesg. It is held that an investment 
here gives better returns than anywhere, and at the same 
time that the climate and other conditions promise a more 
pleasurable existence than could be enjoyed elsewhere. 
This Fresno land, for instance, yields four and five crops 
of alfalfa a year. Vineyards planted but two and a half 
years are shown which produce five tons of grapes to the 
acre. Five years is the period required for the vines to 
come into full bearing. It is estimated that an acre of 


vines in that condition will have cost one hundred and 
twentj-five dollars, allowing fifty dollars as the price of 
the ground, and it is then counted upon for an annual 
yield of ten tons of grapes, at twenty dollars a ton. The 
rate of o^rowth in veo^etation is one of the thino^s to note. 
Fruit-trees are said to advance as far in three years as in 
seven on the Eastern sea-board. 

The personal stories of the colonists are often interest- 
ing. They have generally had some previous hard expe- 
rience of the world. Such a man, working sturdily in the 
field preparing the ground around a new cottage of his 
own, lost a fortune in the San Francisco Stock Board. 
The funds for his present enterprise w^ere provided by 
his wife, who had turned to keeping boarders, and sent 
him her small profits monthly until he should have made 
ready a place for their joint occupancy. Instances were 
heard of where nice properties had been secured with 
no other original capital than a pair of brawny hands. 
These, however, were exceptional. The country appears 
to be one wdiere it is most desirable for the new-comer to 
have a small capital. 

In the Central Colony a comfortable estate w^as ow^ned 
by four spinster school-teachers of San Francisco. They 
had combined to purchase eighty acres. One of them 
lived on the place and managed it. The others contrib- 
uted from their earnings until it had reached a paying 
basis, passed only their vacations there at present, but 
looked forward to making it their ultimate retreat. 

The idea seems both a praiseworthy new departure in 
the direction of female emancipation and charming in it- 
self. I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of 
the resident manager of the experiment. Her experi- 
ences, written out, would, I think, be interesting and in- 
structive. There was an open piano in the pleasant cot- 


tage interior, and late books and magazines were scattered 
about. It was a bit of refined civilization dropped down 
in the midst of the desert. 

This lady had come, she said, for rest. She took pleas- 
ure, too, in the country, and in seeing tilings grow. She 
had made mistakes in her management at first, mainly 
through trusting too much to others, but now had things 
in good control. Four farm-hands — Chinamen — were 
employed. The eighty acres were distributed into vine- 
yard, orchard, and alfalfa, about one-half devoted to the 
vineyard. Its product was turned, not into wine, but rai- 
sins. Apricots and nectarines had been found np to this 
time the most profitable orchard fruits. Almonds were 
less so, owing to the loss of time in husking them for 
market. There was among other crops a field of Egyp- 
tian corn, a variety which grows tall and slender, and runs 
up to a bushy head instead of forming ears. The sight 
of it carried one back to the Biblical story of Joseph and 
his brethren, and the picture-writing in the Pyramids. 

The grapes for raisin-making are of the sweet Muscat 
variety. There was a " raisin-house " piled full of the 
flat boxes in which raisins are traditionally packed. The 
process of raisin -making is very simple. The bunches 
of grapes are cut from the vines, and laid in trays in 
the open fields. They are left there, properly turned 
at intervals, for a matter of a fortnight. There are 
neither rains nor dews to dampen them and delay the 
curing. Then they are removed to an airy building 
known as a "sweat-house," where they remain possibly 
a month, till the last vestiges of moisture are gone. 
Hence they go to be packed and shipped to market. 

One must walk rather gingerly at present not to dis- 
cern through the young and scattering plantations the 
bareness beyond, but in another ten years the scene can 


hardly fail to be one of rich luxuriance. The site is flat 
and prairie-like, and I should prefer, for my part, to locate 
my earthly Paradise nearer the hills. Still, the taste of 
the time runs to earthly Paradises which are at the same 
time shrewd commercial ventures, and the cultivation of 
the plain is much easier than that of the slopes. 





YiSALiA, capital of Tulare County, thirty -four miles 
south of Fresno, is one of the older towns left aside by 
the railroad. I put it in the most obvious way, but a 
patriotic Yisalian, on the other hand, said to me with 
warmth, " Left by the raih'oad ! Yisalia left by the rail- 
road ! I guess not. It is the raih-oad that is left by 
Yisalia, as it will find out." 

Yisalia is reached, from the junction of Goshen, by a 
short branch-road of its own. It is larger than Fresno, 
but less animated. It has perhaps twenty -five hundred 
people, a court-house of the pattern described, and a 
United States land-office. 

When the epithet " old " is used of any California town 
not of Spanish origin it simply means an approximation 
to the year 1849. The building of most hoary antiquity 
in Yisalia dates only from the year 1852. It has been 
government-house, jail, and store in turn, and is now 
decorated with the legend "Mooney's Brewery." The 
town was founded by one Yise, an erratic person, who 
came across the plains from Texas, and had followed in 
his life such various professions, besides that of pioneer, 
as preacher, trader, gambler, foot-racer, and jockey. It 
happened that the quarter section of land upon which he 
settled was at the time unsurveyed, and not legally open 




to pre-emption. 
This irregularity 
was not discov- 
ered till years 
later, when the 
town had grown 
np on the site. 
It was brought to 
light by an em- 
ploye of the land- 
office, who there- 
upon ingeniously 
undertook to pre- 
empt the ground 
for himself. 
" And what came of this bold attempt upon vested in- 
terests ?" ^ 

" The party was promptly fired out of town," was the 

Yisalia is rather prolific in stories, if an " old-timer " of 
the right sort can be happened up to tell them. Cattle 
kings, whose herds once filled the San Joaquin Yalley, 
have retired hither. You may hear how Cattle King 
" Pat Murray " won his wife. She was a fascinating 
person in her youth, the daughter of a landlady with 
whom Pat Murray, then struggling and impecunious, 
boarded, in company with numerous mates. There was 
great aspiration and rivalry for her hand. Pat Murray 
stole a march in this wise. As they were setting off in 
company on an expedition he said, "The trip is a rough 
and dangerous one, boys. I propose that we leave our 
money and valuables with the old lady for safe-keeping." 
The rest agreed, and handed over to him their property 
to deliver to her. The shrewd Pat Murray represented 



it all as his own, and obtained in this way such consider- 
ation in her eyes — as a person exceptionally well-to-do in 
the world — that she advised her daughter to " set her 
cap" at him, and all was happily accomplished before 
the ruse was discovered. 

On another occasion — whether in this same courtship 
or not the chronicles do not say — Pat Murray disposed of 
rivals, who visited in the evenings a comely damsel of 
the general acquaintance, by soft-soaping the log serving 
as approach to her cabin across a small stream. Having 
thus arranged, he 
sat calmly enjoy- 
ing the fair one's 
society, and lis- 
tening w^ith ap- 
preciative ear to 
the splash of the 
successive victims 
as they slid off 
into the w^ater. 

Stories are told 
of Spanish ban- 
dits and treasure 
of precious met- 
als in the mount- 
ains, and of the 
wild administra- 
tion of justice in 
early times, when 
offenders w^ere 
occasionally exe- 
cuted first and 
sentenced after- 
ward. AN OLD-TIMER. 


The first treasurer of the county is said to have carried 
the records of his office in his hat, and, being a person 
given to travel and of an absent mind, he scattered these 
documents far and wide behind him, even to the confines 
of Utah and Arizona. 

At Yisalia I first observed " Spanishtown," a commu- 
nity which begins to appear regularly alongside of " China- 
town" as we go southward. It is composed of persons 
of Mexican blood, poor, shiftless, and not always of the 
most reputable character. 

Charming views of the high Sierras, now powdered 
with the first snows of winter, are had. The surface is 
more rolling than at Fresno, and strewn with fine clumps 
of chestnut-oaks. There are big trees back in the great 
mountains equalling in size those of the Yosemite. 
Lumbermen at work there cut down numbers which, 
though insignificant as compared to the very largest, 
are monstrous in themselves. 

The water for the irrigation of this district is drawn 
out of Kings, Tule, and Kaweah rivers by companies, 
who give to their principal canals such names as the 
People's Ditch, the Last Chance Ditch, the Mussel 
Slough Ditch, and the Lower Kings Eiver Ditch. The 
main ditches or canals range from twelve to forty feet 
in width. Wing dams confine and direct into them such 
portions as are desired of the wide, meandering rivers. 

A California river of the south is something of a 
curiosity. Extravagantly wide, it is in compensation 
preposterously shallow. Only a few last over the dry 
season at all ; the most evaporate and wholly disappear. 
Their dry beds, variegated by a few islets studded with 
sycamores, are more like wagon-roads than the beds of 
rivers. Sometimes these exhausted water-courses differ 
in color from the surrounding soil, and are seen stretch- 





ing as rivers of gray or silvery sand througli the general 
yellow of the desert. 

Though irrigation be yet in its infancy its belongings 
have attained great dimensions. There are three hun- 
dred miles of canals of the requisite size in Tulare 
County, and more than three thousand miles in Califor- 
nia all together. One main canal, that of the San Joa- 
quin and Kings River, has a length of seventy-four miles 
and a width of nearly seventy feet. 


A branch-road westward from Goshen, a continuation 
of that from Yisalia, conveys the traveller to the bus- 
tling, fast-growing little towns of Hanford and Lemoore, 
in the Mussel Slough country. This district, adjoining 
Tulare Lake, was recently part desert and part swamp. 
It has been redeemed so as to rank now among the best 
farming land in California. Its chief product is wheat. 
The inhabitants raise hardly the vegetables needed for 
their own use. Malaria is rather prevalent, but it is said 
to arise, as in many other irrigated districts, from the 
careless use of water rather than the fundamental situa- 
tion. The water, instead of being carefully drained off, 
is too often allowed to lie in stagnant pools. 

The Mussel Slough was the scene, in the month of 
May, 1880, of a bloody conflict between the settlers and 
railroad authorities which has become celebrated. Offi- 
cers of the law, acting for new claimants, attempted to 
take possession of the land under a railroad title. Le- 
gally in the wrong, though perhaps morally in the right, 
the settlers organized to resist, put out stirring manifes- 
toes, which read like the declarations of oppressed people 
struggling for their liberty, and called on gods and men 


to witness the justice of their cause. In the fight that 
ensued five settlers lost their lives, all at the hands of a 
single man— one Crowe, a United States marshal, who 
displayed a prowess and coolness under fire never sur- 
passed in any of the narratives of sensational literature. 
Crowe himself was despatched. A number of the sur- 
vivors were tried for their part in the affair, condemned 
to eight months' imprisonment, and served out their terra 
in Santa Clara jail. They had but just been released, 
say a month before our arrival. Their brethren and 
well-wishers had received them on their return with 
an ovation, the noise of which hardly yet ceased to ring 
in the air. 


Bakersfield, capital of Kern County, seventy-five miles 
farther south, somewhat smaller than Yisalia, boasted at 
one time the distinction of a malady peculiar to itself. 
The Bakersfield form of malarial fever, whatever the fine 
difference that distinguished it from others, had a posi- 
tion apart in the medical works. The sanitary condition 
of the place, however, has been greatly improved by the 
extension of drainage and irrigation works, and can, no 
doubt, be made all that could be desired. 

Of the three lakes, Tulare, Buena Yista, and Kern, 
which make so large a showing on the map, the latter 
two, with their surrounding marshes, have been dried up, 
and the former is on its way to extinction also. These 
lakes had for me, on the map, a mysterious and import- 
ant air. I seized the first opportunity to penetrate their 
mystery, by riding down to Tulare Lake on horseback. 
You cannot reach the margin, for fear of miring. Nor 
is the approach on foot much easier. The tules, or 
rushes, rise high above your head, and are infested with 


a dangerous breed of wild hogs, descended from vagrant 
deserters from the ranches. In such f ragmen tarj^ glimpses 
as are had between and over the tules an expanse of 
dreary surface appears which may be either water or the 
alkali -w^hitened bed from which the water has receded. 
The vicinity swarms with wild fowl. Their multitudi- 
nous chatter has a kind of metallic clang in it. Now 
white, now dark, as they are before or against the sun- 
light, they flutter above the reeds and stubble-fields like 
autumn leaves blown by the wind. 

The drying up of the lakes is occasioned by the diver- 
sion of the surplus waters of the Kern Eiver for the 
redemption of desert lands. This gave rise to a contro- 
versy, lately settled by a legal decision which is a step in 
the crystallization into shape of a system of water juris- 
diction for California. The great firm of real-estate men 
and ranchmen. Miller & Lux, owned the lands below; 
the almost equally great firm of Haggin, Carr e^ Tevis, 
those, for the improvement of which the water was taken 
out, above. The first-named complained of the diversion 
of the waters as a detriment to them, and an infringe- 
ment of their riparian rights. Eiparian right, it will be 
remembered, in the English common law, gives to the 
resident on a stream the right to have it flow as it was 
wont through his grounds without diminution or altera- 

The contest at first promised to be one of physical 
force. Miller & Lux endeavored to close the sluices at 
which the water was taken out. Just, as in Scripture, 
the herdsmen of Gerara strove against the herdsmen of 
Isaac, saying, " It is our water," the hardy vaqueros of 
Haggin, Carr & Tevis were mustered in opposition to 
them, with orders to lasso and throw into the canal any- 
body who should interfere with the sluices. This deter- 


mined sliow of resistance prevented a conflict, and the 
case went to the civil courts. 

The decision spoken of holds that the doctrine which 
prevails in California is not that of riparian right, but 
that of " prior appropriation for beneficial uses." 

That is to say, the greatest good of the greatest num- 
ber is consulted. The point had been raised before in 
controversies about the diversion of water for mining 
purposes. In these cases the ruling was, that the doc- 
trine of riparian right is " inapplicable, or applicable only 
in a very limited extent, to the necessity of miners, and 
inadequate for their protection." It was farthermore 
held that all of the English common law is not in force 
in California, but only such portions of it as are adapted 
to the peculiar conditions of the State. The agricultural 
and mining interests, therefore, are now put, in this re- 
spect, on the same footing. 

Bakersfield takes its tone essentially from live stock. 
It has special resorts for drovers and sheep-herders. Its 
streets are generally full of horses, caparisoned in the 
Spanish style, tied, to hitching-posts and awaiting their 
owners before the stores and taverns. The sheep-herd- 
ers, a lonely race, become morose and melancholy in their 
long wanderings with their flocks apart from the habita- 
tions of men and human speech. They are far removed 
from the shepherds of Boucher and AYatteau. Some are 
said to go insane through the monotony of their lives ; 
and it is an occupation taken up only as a last resort, and 
unfltting him who pursues it for any other. Strangely 
enough, there is a rather English tone among them. 
Young prodigals of good family are found who, after 
trying their fortunes in Australia, India, and elsewhere, 
are eating the husks of repentance here in true Script- 
ural fashion. 


The shops in Bakersfield, as throughout our travels, 
are kept principally by the Jews, who are great pioneers. 
No people are growing up more ardently with the new 
West; and where they are found business is pretty sure 
to be good. 

The Chinatown is a district of compact little streets, of 
an extent that indicates a population almost equal to that 
of the rest of the place. An irrigating ditch surrounds it 
like a moat. The cabins along this, picturesquely re- 
flected in it, are gray and weather-beaten, varied with 
patches of bright Orientalism, and shaded by a line of 
tall poplar-trees. The Spanishtown, close by, is a cluster 
of dance-houses and corrals, between which swarthy Joses 
and Juanitas are seen passing. 

As if this were not foreignness enough already, we 
stumble upon a camp of strolling gypsies, their tents 
pitched on the borders of Spanishtown. They are Eng- 
lish, and have come from Australia, dropping their "h's" 
all along the way, no doubt, as liberally as here. They 
are like t^^pes of Cruikshank and Dickens. An apple- 
faced Mrs. Jarley appears in a large velvet bonnet with 
plumes. A very tightly-dressed, slender individual, with 
a weed on his hat, might pass for Sam Weller. He is 
a horse-tamer and jockey. At his heels follows a bellig- 
erent bull-dog. Behind one of the tents a child of nine, 
Cassie by name, with line, dark eyes, is making a toilet 
before a bit of cracked mirror. She pastes down her wet 
hair into a semblance of the "water-waves" of fashiona- 
ble society. When interrupted with a compliment on 
the arrangement she affects displeasure, and tosses it all 
abroad again with a native coquetry. 

The Mrs.-Jarley-looking woman is the fortune-teller. 
She declares that there are persons whose fortunes she 
would not tell for twenty — no, not for fifty dollars. 




Mine, however, through an especial liking she affects to 
have taken to me, and the dulness of trade, she promises 
to tell, in the most effective manner, for two dollars only. 


The possessions of some of the great land-owners are 
prodigious. It is a favorite story tliat certain ones can 
drive a herd of cattle from the northern counties of the 
State to San Diego, its southern limit, and quarter them 
every night on their own ground. Haggin, Carr & Tevis, 
whose property I was privileged to examine in detail, 
have at Bakersfield four hundred thousand acres nearly 
in one body. Much of this was secured for a trifle in 
the condition of desert land, and has been redeemed. 

One ranchman who had acquired a great estate of this 
kind chiefly while surveyor-general of the United States 
was the occasion of drawing forth one of the best hori 
mots of Lincoln. 

"I congratulate you," said our martyred President. 
" You have become monarch of about all you have sur- 

The owners do not often live upon their estates ; 
they leave them in the hands of managers, and draw 
the revenues. The Haggin, Carr & Tevis property is 
divided into a number of separate ranclies, each with its 
resident superintendent. The "Bellevue Ranch" is the 
centre and focus of authority. Here are the residence 
and office of the general manager, and a force of book- 
keepers, engineers, and mechanics, w^ho keep the accounts, 
map, plan, supervise, construct, repair, and give to the 
whole the clock-work regularity of a great commercial 
enterprise. The numerous buildings constitute a consid- 
erable settlement. There is a " store " of <2feneral mer- 




chandise and supplies. A dormitory and a dining-hall 
have been erected for the laboring hands. A tower-like 
water-tank, surmounted by a windmill, and accommodat- 
ing a milk-room below, rises at one side. There are 
shops for the mechanics, capacious barns, and long sheds 
filled with an interminable array of agricultural imple- 
ments. It is worth while to take a walk past this collec- 
tion of reapers, threshers, sulky-ploughs, and rakes, and 
study out their uses. The immense "header and sepa- 
rator" rises from the rest like a leviathan. A whole 
department is devoted to " road-scrapers," " buck-scrap- 
ers," and ploughs of various sorts used in the construc- 
tion and dredging of the irrigating ditches. The soil is, 
fortunately, free from stones, and the work, for the most 
part, easy. One enormous plough is seen which was 
designed to be drawn by sixty yoke of oxen, and to cut 
at once a furrow five feet wide by four deep. Like the 
famous Great Eastern^ it has defeated itself by its own 
mass, and its use has been abandoned. 

More than $500,000 has been expended in the item of 
fencing alone. An average of four hundred laborers is 
employed, and, in the harvest season, seven hundred. 
The rate of washes is from two and a half to three dollars 
per day for mechanics, and a dollar per day for common 
hands. This seems low as compared with information 
from other sources, and the chronic complaints of the 
scarcity of farm labor, in the California papers. 

No great portion of this domain appears to be in the 
market for settlers of small means, though the intention 
is avowed of offering some of it in this way when thor- 
oughly reclaimed. Tracts, however, are occupied on fa- 
vorable terms by " renters," who take from 120 to 600 
acres. Yery many of these are Portuguese and Italians. 
They are usually unmarried, and work in companies of 


from six to fifteen persons. You see them, dark and 
swarthy, going about in the traditional Garibaldi shirt, 
with hardly a word of English among them. 

The renter is provided with a house, artesian well, 
credit to a, moderate amount at the store, and the use of 
some cows. He has the milk of these, but must give 
their increase to the estate. His lease runs three years, 
and he pays in rent one-third of his crop. Instances of 
large profits are frequent among these persons, and the 
sanje opportunities are open to others who wish to follow 
their example. 

The superintendents and upper employes on the place 
are largely Southern men. California was a favorite 
point for Southern immigration at one time, so much 
that the course of the State in the war, influenced by the 
historic Judge Terry and Senator Gwin, was considered 
problematical. These that I speak of, however, are gen- 
tlemen who have come here to repair their fortunes at a 
later period. They have for the most part titles from 
the service of the extinct Confederacy, and the gentle 
voices and friendly courtesy characteristic of the South- 
ern type. 

A typical ranch-house, that, for instance, of our hospit- 
able friend Major McClung, on his section of the subdi- 
vided property, is a long, two-story dwelling, painted in 
the Indian-red so popular throughout the country. It is 
raised on posts considerably above the ground, to allow 
of a free circulation of air underneath. There is an open 
hall through the centre for the same purpose. An irri- 
gating ditch resembling a moat passes in front, crossed by 
a little rustic bridge. 

Traces of alkali yet show white in the soil of orchard 
and garden, but do not prevent a plentiful growth of 
oleanders, roses, pear, peach, cherry, almond, and apri- 





I in 

cot trees. The 
young orange- 
trees were, as 
at Fresno, put 
up in mufflings 
of straw for 
the winter. 
The weath- 
er is very 
hot at noon-day, 
but so cool at 
morning and 
evening that 
wood -fires are 
burned. The 
cliill in the air is of a penetrating kind, felt the more by 
contrast with the heat of the day, and fire is a necessity. 
The house-servants were clean, white-aproned Chinamen ; 
those out-of-doors, Mexicans. One of these latter had 





trained a goose, " Dick," to follow him like a pet dog, 
and nothing was more cnrious than to see the pride of 
both master and biped in this ridiculous relation. 

Cattle-raising is the leading industry ; alfalfa, for carry- 
ing the stock over periods of scarcity, is the leading crop. 
Stacks of alfalfa of great size, one containing seven hun- 
dred tons, were seen. It is the ordinary color of hay ex- 
ternally, but when cut into is green. 

A successful experiment has also been made in the 
raising of cotton. The hands were in the field going 
about among the white pods for the second picking. 

Though out of season, a 7'odeo was organized for our 
benefit, to show the method of handling the roving cattle 
on a large scale. A number of vaqueros rode out in vari- 
ous directions till lost to sight. Presently traces of dust 
arose on the several horizons. The plain, on which a few 
cows had been peacefully feeding, was filled with stamp- 
ing and lowing herds, driven toward the centre by the ca- 
reering vaqueros. When gathered in sufficient numbers 
feats of lassoing the animals, by either leg or horn, sepa- 
rating special animals or classes, and the like, were under- 
taken, and carried through with marvellous dexterity. As 
a culmination, hats and ropes were picked up from the 
ground, the rider going at full speed. A silver half-dol- 
lar, placed on edge in the dust of the roadway, was seized 
after several attempts by a swarthy Aztec. 

The herders are usually Mexicans, equipped in the 
Mexican style, but with the greater part of the finery 
left out. The bosses, who often even excel them in pure 
horsemanship, are generally Americans. 

The ranch known as the Livermore borders Kern and 
Buena Yista Lakes, and is the southernmost in the tier. 
The herds are gathered there in the early spring, and 
driven to the ranch of San Emidio, in the mountains. 



' ^^MB 







^U '^ r'' 






They pick up their subsistence at San Emidio till the 
middle of September, when they are conducted back 
again. Such migrations from plain to mountain past- 
ure, and back again, recall some features of the Nor- 
wegian pastoral life of Boyesen's charming romance, 
" Gunnar." 

At the Livermore Ranch you are at the apex of the 
San Joaquin Yalley. Here the Sierra Nevada and the 
Coast Range effect a junction, and oppose a natural bar- 
rier to farther progress. The railroad has to cross this 
barrier by a wonderful piece of engineering, the Tehach- 
api (Te-Aa^cA-a-pe) Pass. At one place five different 
lengths of track pass and repass at different levels. By 
the singular "Loop" the road enters a tunnel, emerges, 
twists spirally round the mountain, and reappears direct- 
ly above itself. 

At San Emidio we are on the boundary-line of San 
Luis Obispo County, and could make our way directly, 
no doubt, to its pretty, mountain-encompassed capital. 
This is more easily reached, however, with attractive 
Santa Barbara below, by steamer, or stage-road along 
the coast. 

Returning to Bakersfield, you may ride west to the wild 
caiion of the Kern River, and the mining towns of Kern- 
ville and Havilah. The mining industry has never taken 
the same development south of the San Joaquin River as 
north. It is probable both that there is less ore and that 
the ventures have been managed with less skill. At Kern- 
ville is a quartz-mill, with a hundred stamps, which after 
many vicissitudes has fallen into the hands of its former 
workmen for debt, and is now run by them on the co- 
operative principle. 

The rolling country by which the Kern River Caiion 
is approached is, if possible, even more desolate than the 





plain. There is almost a necessary connection in our 
usual impressions between hills and trees, and when fo- 
liage is missing from hills its lack is doubly notable. An 
utterly parched, verdureless surface, with a texture like 
that of gravel, here follows all the inequalities of the 


ground, up hill and down dale, to the savage and splin- 
tered granite gorge. 

We fell in with an isolated sheep ranchman, " Captain 
Jack B^irker," an enterprising man, wdio had created a 
garden spot in the waste, and showed what even this is 
capable of. He was engaged on a project for leading the 


water, by means of a flume and ditches, from the river at 
the canon's mouth down upon several thousand acres of 
land under cultivation. In the spring-time, he told us, 
all this bareness is hidden by a perfect carpet of flowers, 
chiefly a small orange-scarlet poppy. His sheep at pres- 
ent seemed living on air. He had among them some 
Angora goats, a hardy animal, once very profitable, but 
now, since the decline in alpaca goods, being used by 
him for food. 

The Kern River tumbles down a gorge four miles in 
length, between granite walls six hundred feet high. 
Its water is translucent green in deep, untroubled pools, 
again churned into milk-white floods, with black bowl- 
ders among them. The canon is all but impassable. It 
acts like a funnel, and produces a local disturbance of its 
own on the atmosphere. While all around is still, a col- 
umn of air will blow out of it, and, striking the table- 
land a quarter of a mile away, raise a chronic dust at the 
point of contact, like a cannon-shot. 

Driving across the front of it we were nearly blown 
out of our wagon. We descended into it, nevertheless, 
and upon this experience returned to dine on ribs of 
Captain Jack Barker's Angora goats, and then take the 
railway and cross the Tehachapi Pass. 





OvEE the Tehacliapi Pass, Ave are in Southern Califor- 
nia proper. We have met ah-eady, it is true, with pretty 
Spanish names, old missions, leather breeches, jingling 
spurs, vineyards, raisin-making, and occasional orange and 
palm trees. But when the dividing mountain-range, four 
thousand feet above the sea at Tehachapi, is passed, all 
these are found in their greatest development. The coun- 
try is older, the Spanish names are more musical ; or- 
ange and lemon are not grown for ornament, but as a 
principal crop ; and the climate is of that genial mildness 
which is most to the taste of seekers for health. 

Famed Los Angeles, City of the Angels, is the termi- 
nus of the first day's journey which brings us into it. 
The watering-place of Santa Monica and the important 
points of San Buenaventura and Santa Barbara are not 
far distant to the west, while San Diego lies at a moderate 
remove to the southward, near the Mexican frontier. In 
the intervals scatter colonies of vine and orange growers, 
the numbers and dimensions of which are rapidly in- 

The mountain barrier across the State is deemed by 
some to be of such importance that it should be a politi- 
cal as well as a natural division. They call for the con- 



struction of a 
distinct new 
State, to be 
called South 
its capital at 
Los Angeles. 

"We are 

different peo- 
one of them 
in the Cali- 

fornian. " We are differ- 
ent in pursuits, in tastes, 
manner of thought, and 
manner of life ; . . . our ■ '^'^ ' 
hopes and aspirations for 
the future are different. 

The restless, uneasy population of the North, ever drift- 
ing, without local attachments, has no counterpart in 
Southern California; neither has the wild spirit of min- 

.-■^^y .^^*jy/yM/.A 



ing speculation ever flourished here. With tliis peace- 
able life, possibly in part as a result of it, there has 
grown np in the people an intense love of their land. 

'' And it is for their own section of the State," he goes 
on, " that this love exists. They call themselves, not Cal- 
if ornians, but Southern Calif ornians. The feeling is in- 
tense. I can only liken it to the overmastering love of 
the old Greek for the sunny shores that lay around the 

" For myself, I feel more and more each time that I 
visit the npper portion of the State that I am going into 
a strange land. And the impression never leaves me till 
upon my return I look down from the crest of the Te- 
hachapi over the warm South-land." 

I have thought it worth while to qnote these passages, 
partly because they are amusing, partly because they ac- 
centuate the topographical situation, and also because 
they attribute a character almost the opposite of that 
which exists. Everywhere is bustle, push, and enterprise. 
This people will sell you a corner lot or quarter-section 
of land with as great a gusto as any other, and at its full 
value. Whatever effect lapse of time may have upon 
them, the present inhabitants, few of whom are born 
here or even drafted from indolent climes, if lotus- 
eaters, are of a very wide-awake sort. 


The City of the Angels is, in general, only another 
San Jose, upon a more hilly site. Its population must 
be about fourteen thousand. The long thoroughfare of 
Main Street proceeds, from the depot, at first through a 
shabby Spanish quarter, locally known as " Sonora," con- 
sisting of one-story, whitewashed, adobe houses. Passing 


a small Spanish plaza, set with pointed cypresses, and the 
principal hotel, the Pico House, it becomes lined with ex- 
cellent buildings of the modern pattern. Of these the 
handsome " Baker Block" is most notable. Continuing to 
the ornate "Los Angeles Bank,'- Spring Street diverges 
at a small angle, and contributes, with Main Street, to 
give the commercial skeleton of the town the shape of 
a Y with a very long stem. 

On Spring Street you find a common little post-office, 
the municipal offices, and a brown, Dutch-looking, brick 
building, standing free, originally constructed for a mar- 
ket, and now the Court-house. If you look into the lobby 
of the small adobe jail you will find that some leisurely 
prisoner of the frescoer's trade has converted it into a 
resemblance to a dungeon scene at the theatre. These 
two streets, with a shorter one, Los Angeles Street, par- 
allel to Main, containing fruit and produce commission 
houses, comprise the commercial portion of the city. 

New buildings are seen going up ; the shops are large 
and well-appointed, and placards offer, in the usual shib- 
boleth of trade, "To Eeduce Stock!" "At Wholesale 
Slaughter," and "For the Next Sixty Days." 

A serious depression afflicted Los Angeles in 1875, at 
the time of the general depression throughout the State, 
but that has been succeeded by a new reign of activity. 
Trim, large residences of the more prosperous merchants 
are seen in the outskirts of the town. Farther out yet 
these become villas, in the midst of plantations of orange 
and lemon, ruled off into formal plots by ditches for ir- 
rigation. The class of modest means abide in the side 
streets, in frame cottages. The German Turn-hall serves 
also the purpose of theatre for such companies as come 
this way. 

It is held that Los Angeles, with its port of Wilming- 





now, upon the completion of the 
Southern Pacific railroad, the en- 
tre])6t and Pacific terminus of a 
new commercial departure. San 
Francisco, it is said, has too long ^^i-'' miuli, 
sat at the Golden Gate " levying 
toll on every pound of .freight that passes 
and this selfish greed is to be properly rebuked by the 
diversion of a part of its trade. Enthusiastic San Diego 
expects also to have its share. The wickedness of the 
proceeding would seem to depend largely upon who it is 



that takes the toll. Los Angeles, it is held, is to be the 
Lyons, and San Diego the Marseilles, of the State, San 
Francisco still remaining its Paris. 

The pepper-tree, with its scarlet berries and fern-like 
leaves, forms the leading shade and ornament of Los 
Angeles streets. Apart from these a clump of palms 
grows on San Pedro Street, and, before an odd, octagon- 
shaped house on Main Street, a Mexican nopal of the 
size of an apple-tree. In the court-yard of the principal 
hotel droops a single ragged banana. Tropical features 
in the vegetation ^re scarce, but it is evident that this is 
not the fault of the climate, but of failure to encourage 
them. In the door-yards are the Mexican aloe and the 
Spanish bayonet, from the adjacent deserts of Mohave 
and Arizona. The castor-oil plant grows a tall weed in 
neglected places. The extraction of castor-oil was at one 
time an industry of the place, but is now abandoned. 


The Mexican element must be something like one-third 
of the entire population of the place. In the Spanish 
town, "Sonora," the recollection of Mexico is revived, 
but a very shabby, provincial Mexico. You find mescal 
and tequila^ the two varieties of intoxicating liquor dis- 
tilled from the maguey^ or aloe. The dingy little adobe 
shops contain samples of dingy little stocks of goods in 
their shuttered loop-holes of window^s. A few swarthy, 
lantern-jawed old-timers hang about the corners, and gos- 
sip in patois, and women with black shaw^ls over their 
heads pass by. Much of the quarter is in a ruinous con- 
dition. There remain vestiges of the arcade system of 
the kind known in some form to all tropical or semi-trop- 
ical climates. The arcades of Sonora are not of massive 


brick and stone, bnt are wooden roofs, such as are put out 
by our corner grocers, on light wooden posts. Here and 
there only the battered skeletons remain, attached to 
ruinous houses. Most California municipalities have 
borrowed something of this Spanish idea. At Sacra- 
mento the thriving but flat and not attractive capital of 
the State, you can walk nearly all over the business part 
of town under cover. 

There is a very respectable-looking restaurant — a vine- 
embowered cottage — opposite the Pico House, where the 
familiar tortillas, or pancakes, and frijoles, or stewed 
beans, may be had. Along-side is an adobe church, 
quaint in pattern, but modern and devoid of farther in- 
terest. From its belfry the chimes jangle loudly several 
times a day in familiar Mexican fashion. Out of Sonora 
emerges, on the 16th of September, the Juarez Guard, 
which escorts a triumphal car bearing the national colors 
of red, white, and green, and, aided By a cortege of dark 
little maidens, in white muslin and slippers, proceeds to 
celebrate with appropriate ardor the anniversary of Mex- 
ican independence. 

This people, who have gone so much to the wall, 
wear no very pathetic aspect in their adversity. They 
are for the most part engaged in coarse labor, are im- 
provident, and apparently contented. It is only rarely 
that a Spanish name — a Pacheco, a Sepulveda, or Estudil- 
lo — rises into prominence in the public affairs of the State 
of which they were once owners. Old Don Pio Pico, the 
last of the Spanish Governors, resides here, impoverished, 
in a little cottage, in sight of property of great value 
which was formerly his, and of the plaza once the centre 
of his authority. 

Don Pio is one of the picturesque features of Los An- 
geles, and with his history would be esteemed interesting 



anywhere. Above eighty years of age, with stocky figure, 
square head, and bright eyes, contrasting Avith his bronzed 
skin and close-cropped wliite hair and beard, he has a cer- 
tain resemblance to Victor Hugo. He has a rather florid 
taste for jew^elry. He carries himself about town, in his 
short overcoat with velvet collar and cuffs, with a bearing 
still erect and stately. It is strange to tell, but true, and 


it is evidence of the conservatism and lack of adaptabil- 
ity of his race, that the old gentleman, though once Gov- 
ernor of the State, and a continuous resident of it, as an 
American citizen, since he surrendered it to Fremont and 
Stockton in 1847, does not yet speak a word of any other 
language than Spanish. The talk of this historic person- 
age gave but a rude picture of the state of society in his 
yonth. Was there anything in the world so remote as 
the California of the years 1810 to 1818? 


" I am but a plain and unassuming person," he said to 
me. "Mj father did not leave me a mule nor a vara of 
ground. I worked for the padres at the San Gabriel 
Mission when I was a boy, and I had little opportunity 
to learn book knowledge." 

He disclaimed being an authority even on the events 
of his own fall and the encroachments of the Americans. 
" There are many," he said, " who have a better head for 
those things than I, and who will tell you better than I." 
....'' I was a just man, however. I treated the rich 
no better than the poor. Hence when they asked who 
was lo mas justo y honrado — the most just and honest 
man — for Governor, it was answered with one accord, 
'Don Pio Pico.'" 

There are differences of opinion about those ancient 
officials. Some of them have been charged with a whole- 
sale issue of land-patents after the American occupation, 
which patents ostensibly belonged to their respective ad- 
ministrations. Edwin M. Stanton, sent out to look into 
these matters by the Attorney -general of the United 
States, reported at the time that " the making of false 
grants, with the subornation of false witnesses to prove 
them, has become a trade and a business." 

The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, in 1847, by which 
the war with Mexico was concluded, made valid and of 
full force whatever had been done before the American 
occupation. Spanish governors were numerous in those 
last days, and went in and out of office with extraordinary 
frequency, by reason of plots, counterplots, and the in- 
ability of the home government to enforce its own will. 
Alvarado, Carillo, Micheltorena, and Pio Pico reigned 
separately, or together, or by turns, in a revolutionary, 
confused, and overlapping way, which furnished excellent 
opportunity for fraud. One prefers, however, not to lin- 




ger upon unpleasant suspicions, but rather to esteem these 
fallen dignitaries, few of whom now surviv^e after their 
misfortunes and romantic histories. 

Even the Chinese, singularly enough, show greater en- 
terprise than the Spanish. Perhaps they may have a 
somewhat better warrant for coming in here than else- 
where, since a Chinaman is found in the list of the twelve 
original settlers of the town, in 1781. They have pushed 
into the best of the old Spanish adobe houses, once the 
best of their kind in the State. They occupy all those 
which flank the little plaza with an entire street, others 
debouching from it. 

The populace, however, have not always been the bet- 


ter reconciled to the hapless Mongolians. In an outburst 
of deadly prejudice, in the year 1871, they were dragged 
out of their Spanish houses and hung to lamp-posts, wag- 
on-tongues, and their own door-ways, to the number of 
eighteen, of all acres and sizes. The riot was occasioned 
by their resistance to some process of a deputy-sheriff. 
My informant described them to me as hanging like 
bunches of carrots. 

At present they were putting up, near the site of these 
sanguinary scenes, an ornate open-air theatre or temple, 
for a triennial religious festival, to last a week or more. 


One of my pleasantest days at Los Angeles was that 
which I spent in a drive with the Zanjero. 

The Zanjero, indeed ! who or w^hat is a Zanjero? 

His title is derived from the Spanish sanja — ditch — 
continued down from the times of the original settle- 
ment, and he is the official overseer of water and irri- 
gation. He took me about with him to observe this 
important and entertaining part of the economy of civ- 
ilization in these thirsty regions. Not that Los Angeles 
is so dry in comparison, for it has thirteen inches of rain 
against two at Bakersfield, but it is in abundant need of 

The Zanjero is elected by the City Council annually. 
Six deputies aid him in the summer, reduced to three 
in the winter, when the rains render irrigation hardly 
necessary. All are invested with the authority and 
badges of policemen. 

The city, the Zanjero tells us, as we ride along, con- 
trols in its corporate capacity all the w^aters of the Los 
Angeles River. The Los Angeles River is a Southern 


California stream of the typical sort. It has a wide, 
shallow bed, almost dry at the moment, but in spring 
and winter it brawls in dangerous fashion, and often 
carries away its bridges. We ride up to the point near 
a certain railroad bridge w^here the water is first diverted. 
It is taken out by two small canals, one for the city 
proper, one for the thriving suburb of East Los Angeles. 
We find that the dam by which the river is checked for 
this purpose is constructed of earth, with a facing of 
stout posts and planking. At the beginning of winter 
the planking is removed, and the stream allowed to 
sweep away the rampart of earth, which is replaced by 
a new one, the succeeding spring. Chain-gangs of con- 
victs from the prison are set upon this labor. 

A canal is taken out of the same river twelve miles 
above, which supplies water for drinking and irrigating 
the higher levels. There are two very different levels 
in the configuration of the city, one rising from the 
other with great abruptness, as at Santa Cruz. 

Upon the height are remains of the fort built by Fre- 
mont when he entered the city. Directly at its foot is 
the cottage of Pio Pico ; the big hotel, still bearing his 
name, in which he sunk a handsome share of his fortune ; 
the little cypress-studded plaza; and the shabby white 
quarter of Sonora. The mass of the city lies to the right, 
without striking features. Beyond it, toward the river, 
stretch breadths of a rnsset bloom wliicli w-e know to be 
vineyards, together with lines and parallelograms of 
orange and eucalyptus, as formal as the conventional 
trees in boxes of German toys. Across the river, 
"Brooklyn Heights" and "Boyle Heights" rise to a 
wide, rolling table-land {mesa)^ which extends back to the 
blue Sierra Mad re Mountains. Toward most of the 
horizon stretch expanses of a garden-like vegetation of 


a mysterious quality — the dreamed-of orange-groves in 

The city has created a cons-iderahle part of its debt 
by its water system, in which it has spent probably 
$200,000. The works are of an ephemeral character, 
which will in time be replaced by something more sub- 
stantial. The simple trenches and wooden flumes permit 
of wasted water, and are costly to keep in repair. One of 
the principal ditches, however, is carried through a hill 
some three-quarters of a mile in a tunnel of six feet in 
section. There have been formed also numbers of dura- 
ble reservoirs or artificial lakes for the storage of addi- 
tional water in winter to supplement the river at its 

We rode out among the villas and gardens and ob- 
served the practical application of the water. The main 
ditches are three feet by two, the lesser about two by 
one. The "head" is the nominal standard of measure- 
ment of the babbling fluid. The head should be a sec- 
tion of one hundred square inches, delivered under a 
certain uniform pressure, but it is in practice loosely 

"The irrigators want their work done^^ says the Zan- 
jero; "that is the main point. Some lands take more, 
others less, according as they are sandy or liold water. 
A head of fifty inches on the east side will do as much 
as one hundred and twenty around the city." 

Fan-palms, India-rubber-trees, and tall bananas grow 
freely on the lawns where a little pains is taken. You 
stop now to exclaim at a comfortable home embowered 
in myrtle, orange, and vines, the dark, glossy foliage 
starred with golden fruit and red roses, a spot for any 
romance. Again, it is a long arcade or temple of arbor- 
vitse, extending across the whole front of a garden, and 



framing in its arches delicious views of distant blue 
mountains, their tops now powdered with snow. 

This land of running brooks should be a famous place 
for the children to sail their boats, though as a matter of 
fact we do not see them doing it. Perhaps there is a law 
against it. There are laws, at any rate, against stealing 
tlie water, wantonly raising the gates to waste it, or trans- 
ferring it to irrigators outside the city limits. These 
latter are entitled to it only upon an extra payment and 
after those within the city have been supplied. 

As all irrigators cannot be supplied at once, the man- 
ner of serving it out is as follows: Applications have 
to be made in the last week of each month. The Zan- 
jero then apportions the suppl}^ so that it may go round 
among the applicants in the most convenient way. The 
complete circuit takes about twenty days. The applicant 
receives a ticket, on the payment of a fee, entitling him 
to receive the water on such a day at such an hour. The 
right for that time is exclusively his. The rates are so 
fixed as to reimburse the public treasury, and are not 
intended as a source of profit. The average charge for 
water is about fifty cents an hour, two dollars a day, and 
a dollar and twenty-five cents a night. 

The subscriber has the water delivered to him by the 
deputy at his connecting-gate. At all other times the 
gate must be kept fastened with a padlock. The wooden 
gate, sliding smoothly in its grooves, is like a little guil- 

Chop! goes the guillotine, w^hen it has been raised 
long enough, and off goes the head, as it were, of the 
little stream. Thus surprised on its way among the 
orchards and gardens, it writhes and twists a while, 
rises again in its confining box, and is soon ready to 
begin life again on a new basis. 



Los Angeles is the metropolis of the orange trade, but 
the greater part of the culture itself is in tracts of the 
surrounding country, each with a thriving settlement as 
its nucleus. The lands are usually laid out and subdi- 
vided by capitalists, under the " colony " system, as de- 
scribed. Ten or even five acres in a crop of such value 
are a comfortable property. On Lake Guarda half an 
acre in lemons is sufficient for the support of a family. 
It is in evidence here that returns of from $500 to §1000 
an acre are had from orange, lemon, and lime, after the 
trees have arrived at full bearing. 

The piazzas of the orange-planters command attractive 
views; rose and heliotrope bloom round them; and spec- 
imens of all the fruits are offered for our tasting with 
lavish hospitality and honest pride in their perfection. 

We begin with Pasadena, which is reached by a drive 
of ten miles from Los Angeles. Pasadena, the Indiana 
Colony, San Gabriel, the Lake Vineyard tract, the Al- 
hambra, Santa Anita, and Sierra Madre tracts, and others, 
all of the same general character, adjoin one another. 
The dwellings in them are those of people of means and 
a certain taste. Even the least show ambition. There 
are pretty chapels in the Gothic style, and neat school- 
houses. Well-dressed children of a city air are met 
with on the roads. The roads are excellent, ^o vio- 
lent storms or thawing snows in this climate tear them 
up, and they are kept in order with little trouble. 

The door-yards are enclosed with hedges of lime, arbor- 
vitae, or rose-bushes. Curious small circles from time to 
time attract attention, either filled with water, or dry, 
like the rings of a departed circus. These are reservoirs, 
supplementing the irrigation system. They are usually 


filled by artesian wells, which flow from iron pipes a 
few feet above the ground, the water overspreading the 
top in a thin film, like a globe of glass, reflecting neigh- 
boring objects. Such globe-like films, sparkling from a 
distance, are a frequent item in the prospect. As there 
has never been any forest, no unsightly stumps indicate 
recent clearings. The country, in consequence, does not 
look new. Where settled at all, it has a surprisingly old 
and civilized air. 

The temperature, this late November day — on which 
there are telegrams in the papers of snow-storms at the 
lN"orth and East — is perfection. It is neither hot nor 
cold. A sybarite would not alter it. Bees hum in the 
profuse clusters of heliotrotpe about the porches. A sin- 
gle Jacqueminot rose on a tall stem, a beauty whose sway 
will not be gainsaid, makes its vivid crimson felt from 
the greensward a long way off. Among the older es- 
tates this is pointed out as the home of " Don Benito," 
that of '' Don Tomas," so and so, the family name being 
usually American. Audacious in love as in other things, 
enterprising Americans have married into the Spanish 
families, both before and since the conquest, and suc- 
ceeded to their acres. Yery few of Spanish stock still 
retain any property of note. 

If there be or ever existed any real earthly Paradise, I 
think it might bear some such complexion as that of the 
Sierra Madre Yilla, on the first bold rise of the mountains 
at San Gabriel. I cannot vouch for it as a hotel, for ho- 
tel it is, but I vouch for it as a situation. 

The air was heavy with the fragrance of extensive ave- 
nues of limes as I came up to it. The orange-trees were 
propped up, to prevent their breaking under their weight 
of fruit. Forty oranges on a single bough ! I saw it with 
my own eyes. Some of the trees, by the freak of a recent 




gale, had been denuded of their leaves, which left only the 
globes of golden fruit, a lovely decorative effect, on their 
bare stems. A view of thirty miles is had across the gar- 
den-like San Gabriel Yalley, to a strip of bine sea on the 
horizon. On the strip of blue sea rests a slight brown 
spot, the jewel of Santa Catalina Island. 

Flowering vines clustered along a piazza, part enclosed 
in glass. In a warm nook a couple reclined in steamer- 
chairs, one reading aloud a novel in a gentle murmur. 
They were a couple of recent date, and as the place for a 


honey-moon it was ideal. The orange bears a close resem- 
blance to the formal tree whicli the medieeval painters 
used to represent as the " tree of the knowledge of good 
and evil " of Genesis. It is appropriately placed, there- 
fore, in our earthly Paradise. 

Hist ! The young woman who had been reading takes 
her stand archly at one side of such a tree. The man 
who had been listening rises also, and, with a slight yawn, 
places himself on the other. Oh, what is this ? Is she a 
new Eve ? She plucks a fruit, and hands it to him. Oh, 
this is terrible ! Is there to be a fall again in Eden, and all 
its direful consequences ? There should be some Cranach 
or Diirer here to take down once more the particulars of 
the distressing scene. What does Eve wish Adam to do? 
Perhaps she wishes him to buy lands — above their value 
— and go into orange-planting himself. Alas ! he will be 
lost forever to the higher financial life. Perhaps Satan 
is the invidious real-estate man. 

But really there is no pressing need of such a display 
of fancy because a young matron offers her husband a 
fresh orange before dinner. 

Certain drawbacks — drawbacks attending upon an inju- 
dicious entering into this apparently fascinating kind of 
life — should not be overlooked. The orange-tree grows 
all the time, and calls for incessant care, winter as in sum- 
mer. Not a few invalids who had looked to its culture 
as a pastime have broken down through this cause, and 
through having taken up more land than they could man- 
age. The lesson of such cases is, not to attempt too much, 
but to keep to the five, or ten, acres, as the case may be, 
within one's capacity. Nor has it been politic to put 
everything into the single crop of oranges. The smaller 
fruits — peaches, plums, and especially apricots — for can- 
ning, which come into bearing quickly, are useful in tid- 


mg over the tedious period of waiting for the orange-trees 
to mature, and are always in profitable demand. To start 
existence comfortable here the new-comer should have a 
capital of from five to ten thousand dollars, though pecul- 
iar energy may do with less. 

It requires about nine years to bring an orange-tree 
from the seed into full bearing. On the other hand, it 
is found that by deftly inserting an orange-bud into the 
bark of a lemon-shoot slitted in an X, and setting this in 
the ground, a tree can be obtained which bears market- 
able fruit after the second year. The controversy rages 
as to whether it is worth while to do this, since the prod- 
uct is dwarf, like the dwarf pear-tree. Though it yield 
early it will never yield much, and its fruit does not stand 
sliipment as well as that of the seedling. Against this it 
is maintained that it lives longer than the seedling, and 
yields choicer varieties of fruit, and that the fruit is more 
uniform in size and quality, and not subject to a singular 
form of destruction which sometimes overtakes that of 
the seedling — being dashed upon its own thorns. 

In the same way conflicting theories of irrigation pre- 
vail. A person who bought grapes in large quantities for 
the purpose of making them into wine told me that over- 
irrigation was rendering them watery and insipid. He 
proposed to meet this by establishing a standard. He 
would pay twenty dollars a ton for grapes containing twen- 
ty-three per cent, of sugar, and for those below standard 
less. Plentiful irrigation, however, is relied upon to coun- 
teract that fatal pest of the vine, the phylloxera. Some 
advocate the theory of irrigation in the winter or rainy 
season only. All the water possible is to be conducted 
upon the land at the time it naturally falls, leaving the 
soil to act as its own reservoir, and store up a portion for 
the dry season ahead. Others even deny the need of ir- 


rigation altogether. Thej write to the papers tliat it is 
only necessary to keep the surface well scratched with a 
cultivator, and a supply of moisture will always be found 
a few inches below it. It is certain that crops both of 
grapes and the cereals have been produced from unirri- 
gated ground, even for a series of years. But then comes 
a dry year, in wliich everything, animals as well as plants, 
is scorched from off the face of the earth. 

" Certainty is what is wanted," says a lively informant. 
"You may not need water, as you may not a revolver, 
all the time ; but wdien you do, you need it awful bad." 


In the plain, just under the mountains, lies the old vil- 
lage and mission church of San Gabriel. The mission 
dates from 1761. It was founded, like the other missions 
of California, by friars sent out from the college of San 
Fernando, in the city of Mexico. I recollect well the 
original San Fernando. It stands on the street which 
was the scene of Cortez's disastrous retreat from the 
city, and is marked with an inscription commemorating 
the famous Leap of Alvarado. 

The Mission of San Gabriel is worthy of its picturesque 
origin. It has the same massiveness, color, and quaint ro- 
coco details, including the peculiar battlement, or Spanish 
horn of dominion. Six old green bronze bells hang in as 
many niches together. The fern-like shadows of a line 
of pepper-trees print themselves in the sunshine against 
the time-stained wall. No more than the church edifice 
now remains. Great agricultural establishments con- 
nected with all these missions were swept away, years 
before the American occupation, by edict of the Mexi- 
can government. Some bits of broken aqueduct, and a 




few orange-trees, above a hundred years old, in what was 
once the mission garden, are the only vestiges of former 
prosperity. The interior of the church contains a few 
battered old religious paintings, the worst of their kind. 
It is doubtful if the luxury of really good pictures was 
ever superadded to the excellent architecture, for which 
there was a natural instinct. It is a commentary on the 
popular estimate in which the poor old masters are held, 
I fear, that I was told by the neighborhood : 

" You TRUst see them. They are all Raphaels and 
Michael Angelos." 

The village is piquantly foreign. Its single street is 
composed entirely of white adobe houses. One of them, 
with a tumbling, red-tiled roof, is so full of holes that it 
looks as if it had been shelled. All the signs are in 
Spanish. Here is the zapatero^ or shoemaker, and here 
the panade7'ia, or bakery. The south walls are hung 
with a drapery of red peppers drying in the sun to pre- 
pare the favorite condiment. The population are a hum- 
ble class, who gain their livelihood for the most part by 
day-labor on the surrounding estates. They are not too 
poor, however, to retain their taste for festivity still. On 
the occasion of some notable wedding among them they 
will manage to mount on horseback, and, surrounding a 
bridal carriage, driven postilion-fashion, return from the 
ceremony, at the old mission, whooping and firing pistols 
in the air, in the most gallant and hilarious fashion. 

Near by is the large estate of Sunny Slope, known as 
one of the most successful instances of the putting in 
practice of the sanguine theories about the country. It 
has been acquired, and developed, from very small begin- 
nings. It consists of some nineteen hundred acres of 
land, most of it in vines and oranges. Tliere is a large 
wine and brandy making establishment. Eight thousand 



boxes of oranges and lemons, four hundred thousand gal- 
lons of wine and one hundred thousand of brandy, have 
been produced in a year. 

The dwelling-house was approached by a stately avenue 
of orange-trees, in double lines, three-quarters of a mile 
in length. The road to the large, substantial buildings 
of the winery was bordered by an orchard of orange on 
one side and olive on the other. The vineyards stretched 
out in distant effect like vast reddish-tawny meadows. 


At the winery, blacksmithing and cooperage were going 
on on a large scale, and a deft Chinaman was construct- 
ing the orange -boxes. The rich juice of the grape 
poured in floods, and its more concentrated form as 
brandy came from its still as clear as water. All dis- 
tilled spirit is naturally colorless, and the hues it obtains 


for market are given by burned sugar, to gratify an arti- 
ficial taste. 

The hands are Chinamen and Mexicans. The super- 
intendent tells us that the former do the most work and 
get less pay, but that there are certain things which they 
cannot do. They cannot plough, nor prune the vines, 
and they are awkward in the management of animals. 
Indeed, a Chinaman on horseback, or even in a wagon, 
seems almost as incongruous as Jack Tar. 

We visited, one evening, the Chinese quarters, and it 
would have been hard to find a more clean, domestic- 
looking interior among men of any other nationality in 
the same circumstances of life. They seemed much 
more orderly in their arrangements than the Mexicans, 
either those from the village or those who had a settle- 
ment on a bold slope of the estate above. 

There is much native Indian blood among these latter, 
and their dwellings were half wigwams, patched up of 
rubbish. Mongrel dogs, a donkey, and a foundered horse 
wandered at ease among them. A reddish-brown urchin, 
with large, liquid eyes, coming out, paused to gaze at us. 

" Cor-r-re^ demonio de muchacho P'' (R-r-run, demon of 
a boy!) cried a slatternly mother, who appeared behind, 
endeavoring to urge him upon some errand of peculiar 

But the demon of a boy, exemplifying the traits of his 
race, had no idea whatever of being in a hurry. On the 
contrary, having removed to a safe distance, he dawdled 
in the most exasperating way, and continued to stare 
round-eyed during all of our critical tour of inspection. 

The work of the year was now the pruning of the 
vines. Stripped of every superfluity, the rugged little 
stocks, regimented veterans, were to stand bare till the 
exuberance of a new spring sliould again break forth in 




leaves. Faustino, Gaetano, Incarnacion, and the rest, for 
so they are called, appear to picturesque advantage in 
this work. Their swarthy faces are framed in slouch 
sombreros. They wear red-and-blue shirts, and bright 
handkerchiefs about their necks. They move forward in 
a line, pruning-knife in hand, and a small saw at the belt 
for the tougher knots. The spots of color twinkle upon 
the russet of the vineyard ; the pruning-knives flash as 
they turn to the sun ; the ground has a gentle, agreeable 
fall ; and splintered granite mountains, with deep canons 
among them for exploration, softened by a veil of atmos- 
phere, back up the whole. 

The orange-tree, even at a great age, is not as large as 
one may have expected. Even those of a hundred years 
in the mission garden are not above two feet in diame- 
ter. It is gratifying to be at full liberty to examine this 
attractive vegetation, known heretofore only in its tub 
in the conservatory, or on the staircase at a ball. There 
seems but one drawback to an orange-grove, and that is 
that it cannot have greensward below to lie upon. It is 
very exacting — requires all the nourishment the soil can 
give, and the soil must be kept loose and open around 
the roots. It is irrigated about once a month, and the 
surface gone over with a cultivator afterward, to prevent 
baking up in the sun. 

The orange-grove is lovely at all times, mysterious 
when the long alleys are dark against the red sunset, the 
fruit glimmering like a feast of lanterns at twilight ; and 
in the pleasant mornings sparkling among the glossy 
leaves like little suns newly risen ; while we catch the 
perfume of blossoms heralding in a new crop, though the 
last still hangs upon the bough. Here and there is an 
example of the enormous shaddock, which resembles the 
orange in appearance but the lemon in character. The 


lemon is less hardy to rear than the orange, and is not 
cultivated on as large a scale. Chinamen, with ladders 
and baskets, gather the fruit, and chatter to one another 
from the trees like magpies. It is irrigation-day, and 
all at once the water is let on. Twisting and turning 
this way and that, it runs out upon the thirsty soil, as if 
with an eager curiosity in the embrace. Chinamen with 
hoes follow it, here throwing up little dams, which it tries 
to evade ; there, when it runs sluggishly, opening little 
channels, and leading it where it should go. The whole 
orchard is soon babbling musically with running water, 
and in process of being thoroughly soaked. 




These and kindred scenes are to be met with in fifty, 
I know not how many more, localities of a similar sort. 
San Fernando, Florence, Compton, Downey City, West- 
minster, Orange, Tustin City, Centralia, Pomona, and 
Artesia may be mentioned as leading examples. The 
" colony " government is of a simple sort, and consists 
of a justice of the peace, constable, water overseer, and 
school trustees. Anaheim, settled by Germans, w^as 
one of the first established colonies, and has become a 
town of importance. Santa Ana had a special bustle 
at present, as the terminus, for the time being, of the 
railroad in process of building from Los Angeles to San 

Perhaps, however, the greatest general air of distinction 
is worn by Hiverside. This colony seems to have been 
sought to an exceptional degree by persons in good cir- 
cumstances. It is fifty-seven miles lower down than Los 
Angeles, and reached by a drive of seven miles southward 
from the Southern Pacific Railroad at Colton. Four 
miles north of Colton, on the other hand, takes you to 
San Bernardino, an important place of six thousand peo- 
ple, originally settled by Mormons. The regular Mor- 
mons withdrew to Utah by order of Brigham Young on 
the threat of the coercive war there in 1857, and only 



a few " Josepliites " now remain, whose practices do not 
differ greatly from those of other people. 

At Kiverside is found a continuous belt of settlement 
and cultivation twelve miles long, by two miles in average 
width. It will be twenty long when all complete. The 
population is not large, but revels in a great deal of room. 
The general situation is a valley of about forty miles 
square, at an elevation of twelve hundred feet above the 
sea. The access to this valley is by four several passes, 
one each on the north, south, east, and west, as if so many 
doors had been providentially left open in the encom- 
passing mountain ranges. The settlement forms an oasis 
in the midst of the desert, after the general plan. Its 
fresh greenness, and canals of clear water, along which 
sylvan glimpses, almost English, are met with, derive 
added charm and interest from the desert. The rest of 
the liigh, quadrangular valley, capable, no doubt, of as 
great development, if water can be brought upon it, re- 
mains in its natural condition. 

A lovely drive, called Magnolia Avenue, planted with 
double rows of pepper and eucalyptus trees, extends 
through the length of the place from north to south. 
It is bordered with homes, making pretensions to much 
more than comfort. The best of these are at the division 
called Arlington, four miles below the post-office of Kiv- 
erside proper. The native adobe, or sun-dried brick, sup- 
plemented with ornamental wood-work, has been used as 
material with excellent effect. In the interiors are found 
vugs, portieres, Morris's wall-papers, and all the parapher- 
nalia of the latest Eastern civilization; and there is an 
archery club and a " German." 

Invalidism is heard of with considerable frequency as 
an excuse for the migration hither. Certainly many ad- 
vantages offer to the invalid. The climate permits him 



to be almost constantly out-of-doors. The sk)^ is bine, the 
sun unclouded, nearly every day in the year, and he can 
go into his orchard and concern himself about liis Navel 
or Brazilian oranges, his paper-rind St. Michaels, and his 
Tahiti seedlings^ with little let or hinderance. Orange 
culture affords him both a career and a revenue. If the 
unchanging blue of the sky grow sometimes monotonous, 
there are other distractions in the noble mountain ranges. 
Riverside has in this resource a touch of the charm of 
Switzerland. Your entertainer points out to you from 
his piazza the great peaks of Grey lock, San Bernardino, 
and San Jacinto, from ten to twelve thousand feet in 
height, and crowned with snow for a considerable part 
of the year, just as the Jungfrau is pointed out from 
Interlaken and Mont Blanc from Geneva. 

It is a description that applies to all of Southern Cal- 
ifornia, that, however great the heat by day — in mid- 
summer often a hundred and five in the shade — the 



nights are always cool and refreshing. Sunstroke is not 
known. Nor are the violent thunder-storms with which 
Nature, with us, endeavors to restore equilibrium after 
liaving exhausted its most oppressive warmth. Tlie 
great drawback here, as there must always be some 
drawback, consists in occasional heavy " northers," which 
gather up the dust from the dry surface and produce 
painful dust-storms of two or tliree days' duration. 


In autumn and winter the temperature is chilly enough 
to make fires a necessity morning and evening, and even 
all day long in apartments shut off from the influence of 
the sun. I was astonished to find the air so keen at 
these times, and a scum of ice forming upon water in the 
mornings even as far down as San Diego. The cold has 
a penetrating quality beyond its register by the ther- 
mometer. This, though usually overlooked, is impor- 
tant, since fuel is very scarce and correspondingly dear. 


Fagots of the prunings of the cotton woods, sycamores, 
and mesqiiit-trees along tlie beds of the streams are the 
principal resource. Such coal as can be obtained is both 
costly and of poor quality. 

The water for the irrigation of Riverside is taken from 
the swift little stream of the Santa Ana River, which 
falls so rapidly within a short compass that it is feasible 
to take out two separate canals with a difference of thirty- 
five feet in their levels. On all sides lands are held at 
$200 and $300 per acre, and when the orange-trees have 
come into good bearing, at $1000, which but a few years 
ago were purchased at a dollar and a quarter an acre. 

All these places have their local rivalries, though 
Southern California as a whole is ready to unite in vin- 
dicating its peculiar claims, against the outside world. 
All have their pamphlets to distribute, containing their 
tables of mean temperatures, altitudes, analyses of soils, 
and claims to regard, as based upon nearness to, or ab- 
sence from, some particular natural feature. Thus the 
coast counties take leave to pride themselves upon a 
genial average of temperature, owing to their proximity 
to the sea. They are free, they say, from the extremes 
of heat and cold afflicting those which are shut in behind 
the mountain barriers. The inland counties, on the other 
hand, congratulate themselves that their lot is cast where 
the mountains form an efficient defence as^ainst the raw 
fogs and gusts which must necessarily afflict those direct- 
ly exposed to the chilly ocean. 

These petty rivalries are a part of the history of all 
new countries, and pass away with the development of 
population and trade. There seems no need of jeal- 
ousies, since there is encouragement enough for all in 
their several ways. The Territories of Arizona and New 
Mexico have just been opened to transportation by rail 


from this quarter. The lands suitable for the cultivation 
of the ''citrus fruits" are limited in extent. The mar- 
ket is much more likely to improve than decline, even 
when production shall have largely increased beyond its 
present rate. High railroad freights were at one time a 
cause of alarm. The making of an "orange wine" was 
proposed as a resource for rising up the surplus crop of 
this kind. The experiment was not a success, but it is 
not likely to be needed. Freights have declined, and 
will decline more with the building of projected new 
roads. Shipments of oranges have been successfully 
made from this section as far away as Denver, Chicago, 
and St. Louis. 


Great things are predicted for Wilmington, a little 
port twenty-two miles to the south-west of Los Angeles. 
The extensive works undertaken here by the railroad and 
the United States government are still incomplete, and 
it is but a dreary little place in its present condition. 
However, great ports have never been selected primarily 
for picturesqueness, but in accordance with such commer- 
cial necessities as short lines of transit, easy grades, and 
convenience for shipping. Wilmington had few natural 
conveniences to offer. There were originally but eight- 
een inches of water on its bar. This has been increased 
to ten feet. An enormous jetty, 6700 feet long, extend- 
ing out to what is called Dead Man's Island, is under 
construction. It is to force the tide itself to do the duty 
of scouring out the bottom, so that a ship channel sev- 
eral miles long will eventually be secured. 

Santa Monica is another small port at the end of a 
branch railroad from Los Angeles, sixteen miles directly 
west, and somewliat famed as a sea-side resort. It has a 


hotel of considerable size, and a bold situation on a pret- 
ty horseshoe bay. The beach is of fine, hard sand; and 
the temperature admits of bathing, if one be inclined for 
it, all the year round. The hopes which were at one 
time entertained by capitalists, like Senator Jones, of 
Nevada, of making the place a great shipping point, 
have been for the present abandoned. It was to have 
been the Pacific terminus of a new through line from 
tlie East, coming by way of the Cajon Pass. A wharf 
1500 feet long was built, and a breakwater proposed. 


From here, or from Wilmington, you sail up the coast 
to San Buenaventura and Santa Barbara — favored by in- 
valids. These places have as yet no railroad, but must 
before long come into the general system. Both are on 
that sheltered stretch of the coast which, from Point 
Conception, makes a sharp turn to the eastward, and has 
direct southern exposure and a view of the islands of 


Santa Barbara Channel. Santa Barbara, on its practical 
side, has devoted more attention than most places to tlie 
culture of the olive — an industry still much in its infan- 
cy. Some of the cultivators have provided themselves 
with a machinery, which costs about a thousand dollars, 
for expressing the oil. As a condiment the fruit is not 
pickled green here, like the Spanish olive, but ripe and 
black. It may be that a special education is needed for 
liking each variety of olives, as it is for acquiring the 
taste in the beginning. Those here are of a small varie- 
ty, descending from the old mission times, and it is hard 
not to find them either insipid or bitter. The leading 
shipment from San Buenaventura is honey. A million 
pounds per annum from Yentura County, of which it is 
the capital, is not an unusual product. 


I sailed from Wilminofton to San Dieo^o. I embarked 
in the evening in a small tug, which steamed down the 
tortuous windings of the channel, past black lighters that 
Whistler would have liked to etch, and past Dead Man's 
Island, and transferred us on board a coast steamer w^ait- 
ing without. Next morning we were at our destination, 
a hundred miles below. San Diego, rising on a gentle 
slope, makes a pretty appearance from the water. A 
United States barracks (yellow), with a flag-staff rising in 
the centre, is the most prominent object in front. You 
round an immensely long, narrow sand-spit of a penin- 
sula, which contributes to form the excellent small har- 
bor, and make fast to an immensely long mooring wharf. 
It is a feature of all California ports to have immensely 
long wdiarves. To the left is "Old Town," its beach 
where Dana once loaded hides in his famous " Two 



Years Before the Mast," now the site of a Chinese fish- 
ing village. To the right is brand-new " National City," 
the location of the shops and extensive depot grounds 
for the new railway. In the centre, at about four miles 
from either, lies "New Town," San Diego proper. All 
together have a population of about live thousand. 

As we came up to the wharf a locomotive, starting 
from National City on the new track, made the circuit 
of the water-front, with one long, shrill scream, which 
was taken up by the hills and echoed back. Gods and 
men were no longer to remain ignorant that San Diego 
had at last caught up with its future and had its rail- 

It was cruell}^ disappointed when it was to be the ter- 
minus of the Texas Pacific, transcontinental, road. The 
panic of '73 prevented the capitalist " Tom Scott " from 
negotiating the foreign loan which was needed for its 
completion. That enterprise was abandoned, and a half- 
mile of graded road-bed alone remains as a sort of tumu- 
lus to the blighted hopes and bitter memories of the 
time. The name of the unfortunate "Tom Scott" — 
since defunct — remains also a byword and a reproach. 
Now, however, the " California Southern " is actually at 
work, and under contract to complete the one hundred 
and sixteen miles necessary to meet the Southern Pacific, 
at a point near San Bernardino, within a short time. It 
is to be a link in the new " Atlantic and Pacific," which 
is to follow the thirty-fifth parallel, and become a trans- 
continental road by means of connection with the Atchi- 
son, Topeka, and Santa Fe. 

The capital and management of the California Southern 
are largely supplied by the same Boston company direct- 
ing the Mexican Central, the line to Guaymas from the 
Arizona frontier, and others. A farther road is projected 


by them eastward from San Diego to Calabasas, passing 
through Port Ysabel, at the head of the Gulf of Califor- 
nia. This can be more cheaply built below the Mexican 
frontier than on this side, owing to special exemptions 
there to be had from taxation, and the lower rates of 
labor. It is thought that the Southern Pacific will also 
be compelled by competition to build across from Yuma. 
Hopes are still entertained also of the derelict Texas Pa- 
cific. With all this in prospect, it will be seen that San 
Diego has justification for making a good deal of stir. It 
claims to be hundreds of miles nearer, than San Francis- 
co, to New Orleans and Kew York, on the one hand, and 
the Orient on the other, and is correspondingly cheerful. 

A hand-car on the long wharf conveyed our baggage 
into the town while we walked beside it. The town, be- 
ing reached, is found a place of loose texture. It has a 
disproportionately large hotel, the Horton House, built in 
anticipation of the rapid arrival of its future greatness, 
and a loss to its original proprietor. The blue shades 
were down and the plate-glass windows dusty also, with 
an expectant look, in much of the "Horton Block," op- 
posite. After '73 half the shutters in San Diego were 
put up. They have come down now, how^ever, and prob- 
ably to stay. 

There is a charming view of the harbor and blue ocean 
from the upper slopes of the town. Part of the view is 
a group of bold Mexican islands, the boldest of these, 
Coronado, a solid mass of red sandstone, which Amer- 
icans have tried to get for a quarry, without success. 
Yes, here is Old Mexico once more ; we have come back 
to it. The high, flat-topped peak of Table Mountain marks 
it unmistakably. It is customary to drive down to " the 
Monument," set up on the dividing line of Baja (Lower) 
California, but the excursion is without special interest. 


The chronic condition of shutters in San Diego " Old 
Town " is to be " up," that is, so far as it can be said 
to have any shutters yet remaining. It dates from 
1769. Disadvantageously situated in regard to the bay, 
it began to be deserted in favor of the newer site about 
ten years ago. Nothing could seem more desolate than 
it is now. The usual old mission, with a few palms and 
olives about it, stands in a valley, up the pretty San Diego 
River, and the earthworks of Commodore Stockton, who 
threw them up one night before the enemy knew he was 
ashore, are seen on a hill. Eents should be cheap in Old 
Town, but, according to the gossips who still sit around 
the decayed old plaza, they are not. The owners hold 
them stiffly yet, on what theory Heaven only knows. 


The plaza has a toppling flag-staff, a decayed music-stand, 
and vestiges of a number of burned edifices, which have 
never been worth anybody's while to build up again. 
The "Merchants' Exchange" will never supply cocktails 
to thirsty soul again ; the Cosmopolitan Hotel is without 
a guest; whole rows of weather-beaten adobes — whole 
quarters — stand vacant. It should be a great place for 
ghosts. But perhaps they do not care for one another's 
society. The children, coming from school — for there is. 


it seems, a school — amuse themselves with knocking at 
and rattling the vacant doors ; then thej peer in at the 
broken window-panes and shout, and run laughing away. 


In leaving San Diego I traversed the surveyed line of 
the new railroad almost due northward. A thirty-mile 
section of the railroad was already built. The rest of the 
journey was made by wagon, with an occasional half-day's 
pedestrianism, for which the dry, smooth surface of the 


ground is well adapted. It afforded opportunity of mak- 
ing the acquaintance in a leisurely way of some of the 
ranchmen, small and great, of the old school. The prin- 
cipal one of these was Don Juan Forster (deceased since 



this visit), well known in his section. He was English by 
birth, but sailed with his father in a trading vessel, and 
became a Mexican subject and resident of California long 


before the American conquest. It was so long before 
that he had well-nigh forgotten his English, and had to 
learn it over again when the Americans arrived. The 
Seilora, a sister of Governor Pio Pico, never learned it 
at all, any more than her conservative brother. 

Don Juan's estate, the Santa Margarita Ranch, com- 
prised an area of twenty-seven miles by fourteen, or one 
hundred and fort3^-five thousand acres of land. There 
was one fence seventeen miles in length, and another 
ten. The owner had made two distinct efforts to col- 
onize a portion of his land, without great success. He 
had offered in London to give forty acres and the use of 
three cows and two horses to whoever would put upon 



the laud improvements, in the shape of houses, vineyards, 
etc., to the amount of $1000. 

The Santa Margarita ranch -house is of adobe, very 
thick-walled, with a terrace in front, and an interior 
court. The waiting at table was by a broad-faced In- 
dian woman in calico. All the domestic service was per- 
formed by mission Indians, except the cooking, for which 
a Chinaman had lately been secured, with the view of 
having meals on time. The manner of living on these 
great places was found comfortable, but without the 
"princely" features attributed to it in some of the highly 
colored narratives of former travellers. 

The greater part of the available land in the section 
was devoted to pasture. The cereals were cultivated, but 
not much fruit. Barley is the favorite cereal, as less lia- 
ble to " rust " and spoil than wheat. Hay is made, not of 
grass, but of wheat and barley straw, cut green, with the 
milk still in it. Bee-culture is an important industry. A 
number of varieties of wild sage, wild buckwheat and 
sumac, furnish the bees exceptionally good provender. 
Rows of the square hives, painted in colors, were often 
seen districted into little streets on the hill-side, or at 
the mouth of some small canon, like a miniature city. 

Before reaching Don Juan Forster's the old mission of 
San Luis Key is encountered, in the hamlet of the same 
name. It is almost Venetian in aspect. The whole ex- 
terior was at one time faced with a diagonal pattern re- 
calling that of the Ducal Palace. The pile was ruined 
by a Mormon contingent of the American forces engaged 
in the conquest of the State. Parts of the heavy adobe 
walls and buttresses have fallen in, and resolved them- 
selves back into their original element as mere earth- 
heaps. The images have been shot and hacked down, 
and a yawning cavern was excavated behind the main 


altar in search of fancied treasure. Upon a floor strewn 
with such debris and with fragments of red tiles the day- 
light falls curiously, through holes in the broken roof 
and dome. 


The railroad traverses some striking natural scenery. 
Most notable is the Temecula Canon, a gorge of a wild 
and grand description, ten miles in length, through the 
Coast Eange. A brawling stream runs down its centre. 
The gorge was filled with a busy force, as we passed, ter- 
racing up the track along its sides, sometimes on the 
natural rock, sometimes on a cyclopean retaining-wall of 
immense bowlders. Toward evening every day the firing 
of heavy blasts reverberated up the defile like a cannon- 
ade. The main part of tlie laboring force consisted of 
Chinamen. They had utilized the shelving ledges and 
random nooks by the stream for their tents and cooking- 
ovens with great ingenuity. The Mexicans and Indians, 
who formed the contingent next in importance, w^ere in 
every way less provident. The surveyors were found 
pleasant and hospitable fellows, as surveyors at the scene 
of their labors are apt to be. Compactness and conveni- 




ence had been reduced to the lowest terms, but a pleasant 
existence seemed possible in their small tents. A Chi- 
nese cook was attached to each camp, and the provisions 
and fare were excellent. 

While coming up in the construction-train over the 
section of already completed road we had the distinc- 
tion of being waited on by a servant of rather uncom- 
mon pretensions. This was a certain '' Charley," a shock- 


headed boy of fourteen, son of a later Tichborne claim- 
ant, who had strangely arisen at San Diego just then, 
and announced his purpose of again contesting the title. 


Though serving in a menial capacity — while his father, 
who claimed to have good and sufficient reason for hav- 
ing kept quiet till now, was taking the necessary steps to 
secure the long-lost title and fortune — "Charley" was 
deaf to all banter on the subject. He was supercilious 
and firm in the faith that he too was a Tichborne. 

" And don't you forget it," he threw out to us by way 
of a parting injunction. 

Out of the canon, at the van of the construction work, 
we were on the Temecula Plains, a part of the Upper 
Santa Ana Yalley. The course of the road was marked 
henceforth only by an occasional surveyor's stake. We 
rode over fifty miles of absolutely treeless, verdureless 
desert. It was desert, however, with a certain fascina- 
tion in its sterility. It had a distinct beauty of coloring. 
The brown, drab, and blackish waste, catching sparkles 
of light on its flinty surface, shimmered in the sunshine. 
The heat was tempered by a gentle breeze. Crags of 
black, water-worn rock, which had once been reefs in 
an inland sea, rose in bold, fantastic shapes, and noble 
mountain ranges stood up along the distant horizons, 
their rugged harshness softened into blues and purples 
by a delicious veiling atmosphere. 

Half-way across we fell in with a single sign of human 
life, in the shape of an abandoned pine shanty. On go- 
ing around to the rear the boards were found to have 
been knocked off, probably to be used for fuel. Some 
former travellers, halting here like ourselves, had occu- 
pied a part of their leisure with writing inscriptions in 
lead-pencil. One had written a direction about drink- 
able water in the neighborhood. Another, apparently 
finding this erroneous, had inscribed iTelow it, with much 
more vigor than regard for adopted usages in spelling, 


The sole piece of furniture remaining was a rusted 
cooking-stove, standing on three legs. It had a certain 
almost diabolic, knowing air. You suspected it of hav- 
ing lost its other leg in waltzing about and holding high 
carnival, as no doubt it did, with the coyotes, gophers, 
tarantulas, and lizards who dropped in to pay it visits. 




If there be anything politically disrupting in mere to- 
pography, the section cut off by the range below the Los 
Angeles and Riverside country should also be made a 
separate State. It should clamor at any rate to be joined 
to Arizona, since it is Arizona that it follows in climate, 
and not California. South-east of the low San Gorgonio 
Pass the seasons are the same as those of Mexico ; that is 
to say, the rains fall in summer, while northward they fall 
in the winter and spring. Thunder-storms on each side 
of the mountains may be plainly visible from the other, 
but do not pass the limit. 

I myself saw, from the Arizona side, in December, in 
hot, clear sunshine at the time, murky clouds billowing 
above the range, and the lightnings playing in them, and, 
on returning to Los Angeles, found it drenched in its 
first showers of the season. 

There is one excellent reason why the inhabitants of 
the section do not raise such a clamor, which is, that there 
are no inhabitants worth mentioning. For a hundred 
and fifty miles, from the pass, to the Arizona frontier at 
Yuma, the railroad hardly knows any local traffic. Its 
route is over the celebrated " Colorado Desert," in com- 
parison with which previous deserts are of small impor- 
tance. There are various stopping-places, with designa- 


tions on the map, but these are rarely more than signal- 
stations where the locomotive, like the passengers, stops 
to slake its thirst at a series of artesian wells. 

The plain is not of great extent laterally. Black and 
purplish mountains are always in sight, and spurs cross 
the track. Bowlders and pebbles are scattered thickly on 
the surface at first, among patches of bunch-grass. Then, 
near Seven Palms, the jaws of the black and purple moun- 
tains open and receive us into the genuine desert. It is 
strewn with bowlders still, but is itself a waste of drifting 
white sand, with large dunes and hills of sand. One might 
be riding on the shores of Coney Island or Long Branch. 

A singular depression below the level of the sea for a 
hundred miles, and at its lowest point nearly three hun- 
dred feet, is traversed. At Dos Palmas, in the very bot- 
tom of it, a board shanty, covered with signs in amateur- 
ish lettering, indicating that it is a saloon, stands entirely 
alone. Surely the bar -keeper must consume his own 
drinks, and lead an existence unprecedented among his 
kind. No; a horseman in Mexican accoutrements dash- 
es across the plain — though where he should dash from, 
and how he should ride anything, here in the bottom of 
the sea, but the skeleton, say, of a dolphin or a sea-horse, 
is a mystery — pulls up, and enters. 

And it appears, on a better acquaintance with Dos 
Palmas, that a stage starts every other day for points 
on the Colorado Kiver, and Prescott, the capital of Ari- 
zona Territory, and that this is but a faint survival of 
bustle which once reigned here before the advent of the 
railroad. The route of the Soutliern Overland Mail then 
came this way, and long trains of immigrant and freight 
wagons, carrying water in casks for two and three days' 
supply, were passing continually over these wastes. 

Nothing, on general principles, would appear more de- 


pressing than such a country, but as a matter-of-fact it is 
a stimulus to the curiosity, and furnishes real entertain- 
ment. One would not wish to be abandoned there with- 
out resources, it is true, but he does not tire of looking 
at it from the car-window. Its blazing dryness is dis- 
infectant and preservative. There can never exist the 
last extreme of sadness where the element of decay by 
damp and mould is not present. Chemical processes 
are those which are principally going on. Wonders of 
almost any sort may be expected, and you almost look 
for phantoms not of earth among the shifting mirages. 

A considerable part of Arizona, as well, is of the same 
character, but it is estimated by competent authority that 
with irrigation thirty-seven per cent, of that Territory can 
be redeemed for agriculture, and sixty per cent, as pastur- 
age. It will be called to mind that even the apparently 
hopeless Colorado Desert, which is below the level of the 
sea, is also below the level of the Colorado River, from 
which water might perhaps be spread over it with com- 
^parative ease. 

The truly patriotic Arizonian in their neighborhood 
is not ashamed of his encompassing deserts, but rather 
proud of them, and with a certain reason. The desert is 
in reality a laboratory of useful products. Paper is made 
from the yucca, or Spanish-bayonet, which abounds in 
parts of it. There are tracts of salt, borax, gypsum, sul- 
phur, asbestos, and kaolin, and quarries of pumice-stone, 
only waiting shipment. It is maintained, also, that it 
has deposits of the same precious metals which, mined 
in places where water is more accessible, have given the 
Territory most of its present fame. 

Our train runs out upon a long wooden drawbridge, 
across the Colorado River, and we arrive at Yuma. The 
company has placed here the first of its series of hotels 


of uniform pattern. It is both station and hotel. Such 
provision on an equal scale of comfort would hardly have 
been judicious yet as an investment for private persons. 
These structures therefore become not only a typical 
feature of the scenery, but an indication of the extent to 
which the railroad has had to, and has been able to, by 
reason of its ample resources, take this bare new country 
into its own hands. They are of the usual reddish-brown, 
two stories in height, and surrounded by piazzas of gener- 
ous width — an indispensable adjunct under the dazzling 
light and heat of the country. 


The heat of Yuma is proverbial. The thermometer 
ranges up to 127° in the shade. There is an old story 
of a soldier who died at the fort and went to the place 
which Bob Ingersoll says does not exist, and, finding it 
chilly there by comparison, sent back after his blankets. 

Great heat, nevertheless, is not equally formidable 
everywhere. It is well attested that there is no sun- 
stroke here, and no such suffering as from a much low- 
er temperature in moister climates. Distinct sanitary 
properties are even claimed for this well-baked air. So 
near the sea-level, it is said to be less rarefied, and to 
comprise, therefore, a greater quantity of oxygen to a 
given bulk, than that of mountain districts, which, in pur- 
ity and dryness, it resembles. It is thought to be benefi- 
cial in lung troubles. Yuma, among its arid sand-hills, has 
aspirations to be a sanitarium. Civilized people also may 
yet resort there to engage in a sensible sun-worship, bask- 
ing in the genial heat, and then plunging into the river, 
after the fashion of the resident Indians, who make of it 
in this way a kind of natural Turkish bath. 




A transition state may have disadvantages, even when 
a step toward something better. Yiima has now its rail- 
road, and is to have a shipping-port of its own, by the 
construction of another to Port Ysabel, on the Gulf of 
California. Still, it laments a greater activity it once en- 
joyed, as chief distributing point for the mines and upper 
river towns. It expects the Port Ysabel Eailroad to have 
the effect of doubling its population in two years. It will 
not be a very stupendous population even then, as it is 
but fifteen hundred at present. 

The town is a collection of inferior adobe houses, a few 
of the very best being altered from the natural mud-color 
by a coating of whitewash. The ordinary part of it re- 
sembles more the poor tropical hamlets on the trail to 
Acapulco than even the ordinary villages of Mexico. 
The houses consist of a framework of cottonwood or 
ocotilla wattles, plastered with mud inside and out, 
makins" a wall two or three inches thick. The roof is 


thatched, the floor is the bare ground. Around them 
are generally high palisades of ocotilla sticks, and corrals 
of the same adjoining. 

The waiters in a Yuma hotel are of a highly miscella- 
neous character. You are served, in the same dining- 
room, by Mexicans, Chinamen, Irish, Americans, and a 
tame Apache Indian. One and all had a certain as- 
tounded air, ending in something like confirmed depres- 
sion, on finding that we were to remain, would dine at our 
leisure, and did not wish to have the dishes shot at us as 
if out of a catapult, after the practice with the ordinary 
traveller pausing here his allotted half-hour. One does 
not expect too much of his waiter in Arizona, however. 
There are reported instances in which he makes you eat 
your steak with his hand on his pistol - pocket, and the 
threat of wearing it out on you if you object. 


The Colorado at Ynma makes about the same impres- 
sion as to width as the Sacramento at Sacramento, the 
Ohio at Pittsburg, or the Connecticut at Hartford. It 
is a turbulent yellow stream. It cuts into high sand 
bluffs on the Arizona side, and spreads out their contents 
in wide bars on the California side. It is without wharves. 
The light - draught, high - decked steamboats, or barges, 
that ply up and down its interminable reaches tie up 
when necessary to the banks. 

Mountains of a jagged, eccentric formation follow its 
general course northward. Peaks impressively counter- 
feiting human work. Castle Dome, Chimney Peaks, Pi- 
cacho, and Cargo Muchacho, loom up along the horizon, 
a fitting prelude to the marvels of Arizona. 

It was at the close of an Indian war that this visit was 
made. It had been said, in rumors much exaggerated, 
that the whole white civilization of the Territory was in 
danger by the outbreak, and troops — but now on their 
return — had been hurried thither from all sides. The 
first view of Indians, therefore, at Yuma was of a double 
interest. They were not Apaches, it is true, but a 
subsequent acquaintance with the general field proved 
them to be even more picturesque. They are of that 
highly satisfactory style of savages who wear but little 
clothing, and none of it European. They are to be seen 
in numbers about the railway-station by the most casual 
passenger. The railroad is still new to them, and they 
have not satiated their curiosity. They bring friends 
from a distance to see it, and are observed describing to 
these visitors how the drawbridge swings, and how the 
cars are switched from one track to another. 

They are met with coming across this bridge from the 
patch of river-bottom near the fort on the California side, 
where their principal settlement is. The young men run 


or stride at great speed, so as to throw out behind them a 
long red sash or band, depending from the breech-cloth, 
which is, in summer, the principal part of their attire. 
To this is added, in winter, a close-fitting gray or crim- 
son under-shirt. They wear their thick, coal-black hair 
"banged" low on their foreheads, and bushy about their 
necks. The effect at a little distance is not unlike that of 


the Florentine period, when the young gallants wore jer- 
kins and trunk hose fitting them like their skins, and jast 
such bushy locks, which they crowned, however, instead 
of going bare-headed, with jaunty velvet caps. 

The fort is without guns, other than a howitzer for fir- 
ing salutes, and has no strength, as it no longer needs to 
have, except from its position on a commanding bluff. 
The military policy of the government now is to station 
its troops along a railroad or other easy line of communi- 




cation, where they can be quickly massed for mutual sup- 
port. All the Arizona posts, such as Camp Lowell, with 
its grassy parade and fine avenue of cottonwoods; Camp 
Grant, on its table-land; and Camp Apache, at the junc- 
tion of two charming trout streams, in the White Eiver 
Canon ; and the others, have only this strategic impor- 
tance, and no intrinsic strength. The barracks at Yuma 
consist of a series of comfortable, large, adobe houses, plas- 
tered, and painted green, around an oblong plaza. They 
have in front a peculiar screen-work of green blinds, 
which shuts out the glare arising from the yellow ground, 
and makes both a cool promenade and comfortable sleep- 
ing apartments for the summer. 

The chief of the Yumas, on whose settlement the fort 
looks down, chooses his sub-chiefs, but is himself appointed 
by the military commandant. The last investiture was 
made as long ago as 1852, by General, then Major, Heintz- 
elman. He conferred it upon the now wrinkled and de- 
crepit Pasepal, described at the time as " a tall, fine-look- 
ing man, of an agreeable disposition." 

Pasqual's people cultivate little patches of vegetables 
and hay in the river-bottom, fertilized by the annual 
overflow. Their principal sustenance, however, is the 
sweet bean of the mesquit-tree. This they pound, in 
mortars, into a kind of flour. Sometimes, when on the 
move, the Indians float their hay across the river on rafts, 
which they push before them, swimming. They propel 
the small children in the same w^ay, placing them in their 
large, Egyptian -looking ollas^ or water-jars. 

The crop of rnesquit beans was so large one year as to 
be beyond their unaided capacity to consume, and they 
hospitably invited in their friends, the Pi mas, to aid them. 
Old Pasqual describes with graphic gestures how hag- 
gard and lank were these visitors on their arrival, and 


what an unctuous corpulence they had attained in the 
end, when, after nearly eating their hosts out of house 
and home, they were only got rid of at last by force. 


Few things are more curious at this time of day. than 
to look back at the old maps of our Western possessions 
previous to the annexation of Texas. Texas was not then 
ours ; nor were a considerable part of Indian Territory, 
Kansas, half of Colorado, all of Utah, Xevada, Califor- 
nia, Arizona, and New Mexico. All of this belonged 
to our sister republic of Mexico, which, as I have said, 
was within an ace as large as ourselves, and, except for 
its internal dissensions, could by no means be considered 
a puny antagonist. 

An impressive vagueness attended the delineation of 
most things west of the Mississippi. There were great 
tracts hardly more known than the centre of Africa. 
The upper regions of Mexico were distinguished as In- 
terna ; New Mexico and Arizona were simply Apacheria 
— Apache Land. Our frontier ran along the line of the 
Sabine Kiver to the Red, from the Red to the Arkansas, 
and from the Arkansas, on the 42d Parallel of latitude, 
straight west to the Pacific Ocean. By the peace of 
Guadalupe Hidalgo our frontier became the Rio Grande 
and Gila instead, and the line had dropped from Parallel 
40° to Parallel 32°. 

I have called this territory heretofore, by way of figure 
of speech, an Alsace-Lorraine of Mexico, though it is not 
probable, vacant as it was, and Americanized as it now is, 
that a serious grudge is still borne us for it, or that there 
will ever be momentous wars for its recovery. How- 
ever this may be, it has been the making of us. "We 


should be in but sorry shape indeed had we to go back 
to the limits of the thirteen original British Colonies, 
or even to these with Florida, purchased from the Span- 
iards, and Louisiana, purchased from the French, added. 
The Mexican acquisition gave us one-third of our do- 
main — that which is now most open to the teeming mill- 
ions of Europe and that which avails us our repute for 
essential Americanism abroad. It gave us the field of 
the Bret Harte school in literature, our chief marvels 
and wonders, our mines of the precious metals, and the 
command of the Pacific Ocean. 

The lower belt of Arizona was not even comprised in 
this. An area of 460 miles by 130, below the Gila Eiver, 
was not obtained till " the Gadsden Purchase," in 1853. 
By the payment of the sum of $10,000,000 under this 
treaty we obtained a number of decided advantages. 
We rectified our boundary line, confused through the in- 
accuracy of the map of one Dwindle, on which it was 
based. We got rid of an embarrassing engagement, of 
the treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, to protect the Mexican 
frontier from Apaches — leaving them to regulate this ser- 
vice for themselves. We secured the right of way for a 
railroad across the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, which was 
thought desirable for speedier communica|;ion with our 
new possessions of California. 

But above all we acquired, in the easy levels below 
the Gila, the natural route for a Southern Pacific trans- 
continental railway. The files of the Congressional 
Globe of that date are full of the necessity of binding 
our Pacific acquisitions securely to the rest of the coun- 
try, and the most effectual of all the means proposed was 
considered to be a transcontinental railway. 

Well, we are bowling at last along that now actual- 
ly constructed Southern Pacific Railroad, once discussed 


in musty debates of the Congressional Glohe. It increases 
our respect for predecessors to whom we may not have 
given any great consideration heretofore to find how 
sagacious they were. We reach Stanwix, with its hiva 
beds ; Painted Rock, named from huge, mysteriously-dec- 
orated bowlders ; Casa Grande, from its architectural 
ruins of the Toltecs ; and Tucson. 

Adopting the policy of leaving Tucson to be examined 
on the return, let us push on to the extreme end of the 
Territory — to the eccentrically-named Tombstone. Ben- 
son, the point of departure, from the railroad, for Tomb- 
stone, is 1024 miles from San Francisco, and probably 
2500 from New York. 





Tombstone is the very latest and liveliest of those 
mushroom civilizations which so often gather around a 
"find "of the precious metals. They live at a headlong 
pace ; draw to them wild and lawless spirits ; confer great 
fortunes here, the grave of the drunkard, the suicide, or 
the victim of violence elsewhere. A school of literature, 
with Bret Harte as its exponent, has arisen to celebrate 
their doings. At the present rate of advance of popu- 
lation and conventional usages westward they must short- 
ly disappear as eifectually as the dodo of tradition. While 
things go well with them the prices of commodities are 
hardly considered. Nobody haggles. The most expen- 
sive of everything is what is most wanted. 

"Diamonds — two-hundred-dollar watches and chains — 
Lord ! we couldn't hand 'em out fast enough," says an 
ex-jeweller, describing his experience at one of the camps 
in its palmy days. " Champagne wasn't good enough 
for me then," says a seedy customer, recalling his doings 
after the discovery and sale of a rich mine. He sighed 
for a repetition of the event, not to make provision for 
his old age, which sadly needed it, hut that he might 
have " one more glorious spree " before he died. 

Oftentimes this rush of life departs as quickly as it 
came. Some fine day the "lead" is exhausted, there is 


found to be no more treasure in the mines. The hetero- 
geneous elements scatter, and the town, be it never so 
well built, is left as desolate as Tadmor of the Wilder- 
ness. In a certain Nevada mining town, which once 
numbered some thousands of inhabitants, Indians are 
living in rows of good brick houses, having adapted 
them to their peculiar conditions by taking out doors 
and windows and knocking holes in the roof. 

A six-horse Concord coach carried us, not too speedily, 
over the twenty-five miles of dusty road to Tombstone. 
It was called the " Grand Central," after one of the 
prosperous silver mines of the place. A rival line was 
named the " Sandy Bob," from its proprietor; who pre- 
ferred to be himself thus known, instead of by a conven- 
tional family appellation such as anybody might have. 
We should certainly have taken the " Sandy Bob Line " 
for its greater suggestiveness, except that it seemed to be 
coming down when we wanted to go up, and always com- 
ing up when we wanted to go down. 

Our own proved to have plenty of suggestiveness too. 
A guard got up with a Winchester rifle, and posted him- 
self by the Wells-Fargo Express box, and the driver be- 
gan almost at once to relate robber stories. His stage 
had been stopped and "gone through" twice within the 
past six months. The affair had been enlivened on the 
one occasion by a runaway and turnover, and on the 
other by the shooting and killing of the driver. Of this 
last item his successor spoke with a natural disgust. If 
the line could not be drawn at drivers, he said, things 
had indeed come to a pretty pass. He respected a man 
who took to the road and robbed those who could afford 
it. At least, he considered it more honorable than bor- 
rowing money of a friend which you knew you could 
never repay, or than gobbling up the earnings of tlic 



poor, like a large 
firm lately sus- 
pended in Pima 
County. But as 
to shootino^ a driv- 
er, even in mistake 
for somebody else, 
he had no words to 
express his sense of 
its meanness. 

He threw stones 
at his horses, as in 
Mexico, that is, at 
the leaders, beyond the reach of his long lash. The 
same stone was made to " carom " from one to the other, 
such was his skill, and startle them both. Long string- 
teams of mules or Texas steers, sixteen to a team, with 
ore- wagons, were met with along the road. Mexican- 
looking drivers trudged beside them in the deep, yellow 
dust, cracking their animals lustily with huge "black- 
snakes." Mesquit-bushes, and long grass dried to hay 
— not as good as it looked — covered portions of the 
surface ; the rest was bare and stony. 

We rode for a certain distance beside the branch rail- 



road in course of construction between Benson and Tomb- 
stone. A series of lateral valleys along the tributaries of 
the Gila, north and south, as the Santa Cruz, Salt River, 
San Carlos, San Pedro, and San Si in on Yallejs, afford ex- 
cellent stock ranges, promise of a flourishing agriculture, 
and easy routes for tributary railways. They have already 
besrun to be utilized. The San Pedro has the Southern 
Pacific branch above mentioned, and the Santa Cruz will 
have the Arizona Southern, connecting the centre of the 
Territoiy at Florence, on the Atlantic and Pacific, with 
Mexico at Calabasas. The transcontinental road — or 
roads, when the Atlantic and Pacific shall have been 
built — will draw through these tributary valleys, as the 
Gila draws its waters, a trade from Northern Mexico, 
where mining enterprises in particular, in the hands of 
Americans, are making great headway. 

The route began to be very much up-hill. We changed 
horses and lunched at Contention City. One naturally 
expected a certain belligerency in such a place, but none 
appeared on the surface during our stay. There were 
plenty of saloons — the "Dew-drop," the "Head-light," 
and others — and at the door of one of them a Spanish 
senorita smoked a cigarette and showed her white teeth. 

Contention City is the seat of stamp-mills for crushing 
ore, which is brought to it from Tombstone. The latter 
place is without an efficient water-power. The stamps 
are rows of heavy beams, which drop upon the mineral, 
on the mortar and pestle plan, with a continuous dull 
roar, by night as w^ell as day. 

" That's the music I like to hear," said our driver, gath- 
ering up his reins, "poundin' out the gold and silver. 
There ain't no brass bands ekils it." 

The route grew steeper yet. On the few wayside 
fences that exist were painted flaring announcements, as 


" Go To Baugley and Schlagenstein's At Tombstone. 
They Are The Bosses, You Bet." 

Then over the edge of bare hills appeared Tombstone 
itself, a large, circular water-tank, big enough for a fort, 
painted with advertisements, the most conspicuous object 
in the foreground. 


At the beginning of the year 1878 there was not so 
much as a tent at Tombstone. One "Ed" Schieffelin 
and his brother started thither prospecting. It was sup- 
posed to be an adventure full of dangers. At the Santa 
Rita silver mines, in the Santa Cruz Yalley, for instance, 
nothing like so far away, three superintendents had been 
murdered by Indians in rapid succession. 

His friends therefore said to Ed, " Better take your 
coffin with you ; you will find your tombstone there, and 
nothing else." 

But Ed Schieffelin — a young man yet, who has not 
discarded a picturesque wa}^ of dressing of wliich he was 
fond, nor greatly altered his habits otherwise — found in- 
stead the Tough Nut and Contention Mines. He made a 
great fortune out of tliem, and was so pleased at the dif- 
ference between the prediction and the result that he 
gave the name of Tombstone to the town itself. 

One of two well-printed daily papers has assumed the 
corresponding title of the Ejntcqjh. The unreliability of 
epitaphs — if the remark may be safely ventured even at 
this distance — is proverbial. Nevertheless, they may oc- 
casionally tell the truth. From appearances it would 
seem that this was one of the occasions. Almost any 
eulogy of its subject by the Epitaph would seem justi- 
fied. The city, but two years old at this date, had at- 
tained to a population of 2000, and a property valuation, 



apart from that of the mines, of $1,050,980. A desirable 
lot of 30 by 80 feet, on Allen Street, between Fonrtli 
and Sixth — such was the business-like nomenclature used 
already in this settlement of yesterday — was worth §6000. 


A shanty that cost §50 to build rented for §15 a month. 
A nucleus of many blocks at the centre consisted of sub- 
stantial, large-sized buildings, hotels, banks — Schieifelin 
Hall, for meetings and amusements — and stores stocked 
with goods of more than the average excellence in many 
older and laro^er tow^ns. 


Tlie mining claims run under the city itself. From 
the roof of the Grand Hotel yon look down at the shafts, 
hoist-works, and heaps of extracted ore of the Yizina, the 
Gilded Age (close to the Palace Lodging-house), the 
Mountain Maid, and other mines, opening strangely in 
the very midst of the buildings. This circumstance has 
given rise to disputes of ownership, so that whoever 
would be safe purchases all the conflicting titles, both 
above ground and below. On a commanding hill close 
by, to the southward, are the Tough Nut and Conten- 
tion, and above them many others later discovered. The 
larger mines had extensive buildings, of wood, and in 
handsome draughting and assay rooms witliin were reg- 
ularly educated scientists, ex-college professors and the 
like, in charge. Tlie lesser mines put up in the begin- 
ning wnth commoner sheds and poorer appliances of 
every kind. About them all lie heaps of a blackish 
material, resembling inferior coal and slate, the silver 
ore in its native condition. A laborer above-ground 
earned $3.50, and below-ground S^, for a" shift" of 
eight hours, and the work went on night and day, Sun- 
days and all. 

I leave to others to estimate the bulk of treasure in the 
place. I was told that it was " the biggest thing since 
the Comstock," and there were forty million dollars in 
sio-ht. I was offered, daily, fractional interests in mines, 
now by a young surveyor who was going to be married 
and needed money for his wedding outfit ; now by new 
friends who were straitened for assessment funds to 
carry out the provisions of the law; and again by others 
who would kindly make any sacrifice for the pleasure of 
associating a traveller from a distance with the interests of 
the place ; and yet it will be well for the novice to be wary 
of these seductive openings at Tombstone, as elsewhere. 


This I know, however, that I descended four hundred 
feet or so into the Contention Mine, and found great 
chambers hollowed out, from which mineral had been 
taken, showing a generous width in the vein. The 
yield, from its discovery up to March, 1881, had been 
$2,000,000. The Tough Nut, with the Lucky Cuss, 
Good Enough, Owl's Nest, and Owl's Last Hoot — 
the racy vernacular of their names will be observed — 
had yielded $1,000,000. 

The outskirts of Tombstone consisted still of huts and 
tents. A burly miner could be seen stretched upon his 
cot in a windowless cabin, barely large enough to contain 
him. There were some tents provided with wooden doors 
and adobe chimneys. New as it was, the business por- 
tion of the place had been once swept out of existence 
by a devastating fire, which originated from a character- 
istic incident — the explosion of a whiskey-barrel in the 
Oriental Saloon. Within fourteen days all was rebuilt 
far better than before. 

I took the pains to count the number of establishments 
in a single short block of Allen Street at which intox- 
icating liquors were sold. There were the bar-rooms 
of two hotels, the Eagle Brewery, the Cancan Chop- 
house, the French Rotisserie, the Alhambra, Maison 
Dore, City of Paris, Brown's Saloon, Fashion Saloon, 
Miners' Home, Kelly's Wine - house, the Grotto, the 
Tivoli, and two saloons apparently unnamed. At these 
places gambling also went on without let or hinderance. 
The absence of savings-banks or other opportunity^ for 
depositing money, in these wild communities, and the 
temptation arising from having it always under the eye, 
no doubt has something to do with the general passion 
for gambling. Whiskey and cold lead are named as 
the leading diseases at Tombstone. What with the 



leisure that seems to prevail, the constant drinking and 
gambling at the saloons, and the universal practice of 
carrying deadly weapons, there is but one source of 
astonishment, and that is that the cold- lead disease 
should claim so few victims. Casualties are, after all, 
infrequent, considering the amount of vaporish talk in- 
dulged in, and the imminent risks that are run. The 
small cemetery, over toward Contention Hill, so far from 
being glutted with the slaughtered, is still comparatively 
virgin ground. 


A farther element in addition to that of the miners is 
to be cited as having a good deal to do with the excep- 
tional liveliness of Tombstone — the " Cow-boys." 

The term cow-boy, once applied to all those in the cat- 
tle business indiscriminately, while still including some 
honest persons, has been narrowed down to be chiefly 
a term of reproach for a class of stealers of cattle, over 
the Mexican frontier, and elsewhere, who are a terror in 
their day and generation. Exceptional desperadoes of 
this class, such as "Billy the Kid," "Curly Bill," and 
" Russian George," have been the scourges of whole 
districts in Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona, and 
have had their memories embalmed in yellow-covered 

I bought on the train, on leaving, a pamphlet purport- 
ing to be an account of the exploits of Billy the Kid. 
He had committed, it appeared, at least a score of horrid 
murders, but " so many cities have claimed the honor of 
giving him birth," said my pamphlet, "that it is difficult 
to locate with any accuracy the locality where he passed 
his youth." It was finally determined, however, in favor 
of New York. " It was on the Bowery," said the author, 


whose ideas of morality were peculiar even for a sensa- 
tionalist, " that his mates learned to love him for his dar- 
ing and prowess, and delighted to refer to him as Billy 
the Kid.'^ 

This promising life was cut off at the early age of 
twenty-two. "Curly Bill," also died young, and so did 
"Man-killer Johnson." I remarked npon this peculiar- 
ity, of their youth, to a philosopher of the region itself. 

" Yes," he said, " they donH seem to live to be very 
old ; that's so." 

The recipe for a long life in this country was described 
as being very quick and getting "the drop" on an antag- 
onist ; that is to say, being ready to shoot first. Unless 
this can be done, it is the custom even to put up with 
some ignominious abuse at the time, and await a more 
favorable opportunity. 

The cow-boys frequenting Tombstone were generally 
from the ranches in the San Pedro and San Simon 
valleys. There were said to be strongholds in the San 
Simon Yalley where they concealed stolen cattle until 
re-branded and sent to market, and where no officer of 
the law ever dared to venture. They looked upon the 
running off of stock from Mexico, as far as that was 
concerned, only as a more dashing form of smuggling, 
though it was marked by frequent bloody tragedies on 
both sides. 

Kot to fix upon all the misdeeds of but a few, no 
doubt there were on the streets of Tombstone plenty of 
cow-boys of a legitimate sort, whose only faults were 
occasional boisterousness and too free lavishing of their 
money. There appeared to be something of a standing 
feud between the miners and the cow-boys, and there was 
besides a faction of " town cow-boys " organized against 
the "country cow-boys." 


The leading cattle-men had a Southern cut and accent, 
and hailed originally from Missouri or Texas. Some ap- 
peared in full black broadcloth, accompanied by the usual 
wide sombrero. The landlord of our hotel described 
them as " perfect gentlemen," some of them good at the 
bar for as high as §20 or $25 a -day. 

The great object in life of the various factions, or of 
individuals who arose from time to time in search of 
notoriety, was to " run the town." This consisted large- 
ly in the privilege of bUistering in the saloons, whooping 
and firing occasional pistol-shots, if thought good, in the 
streets, and having a moderate security from arrest, in- 
spired by dread of their prowess. 

This was necessarily a very insecure preeminence. 
New aspirants and rebels were continually piqued into 
appearing against it whenever it seemed fairly attained. 
Our visit happened upon the heels of a conflict making 
the most tragic page yet written in the annals of Tomb- 
stone. Opinions seemed divided about it — even ofiicial 
opinions. The sheriff extended his sympathy to one 
side, the city marshal, who was, in fact, its leader, to the 

City Marshal Earp, with his two brothers, and one 
" Doc Holliday," a gambler, had come down the street, 
armed with rifles, and opened fire on two Clan ton broth- 
ers and two McLowry brothers. The latter party had 
been practically first disarmed by the sheriff, who feared 
such a meeting, and meant to disarm the others as well. 
Three of the assailed men fell, and died. " Ike " Clan- 
ton alone escaped. 

The slayers were imprisoned, but released on bail. 
The Grand Jury was now in session, hearing evidence 
in the case. It was rumored that the town party — the 
Earps — would command a sufficient personal influence 


to go free of indictment. The cow-boys were Hocking 
into town to await the result, and on a certain quiet 
Sunday wore an ominous look. It was said that, should 
justice fail to be done them, the resolute-looking men 
conferring together darkly at the edges of the sidewalk 
would take the matter into their own hands. The jury, 
I have since learned, did not find an indictment, and the 
remaining parties to the affair, with many others, I be- 
lieve, have since died with their boots on in the same 
cause. If anything could reconcile us to the untimely 
taking-off of these paladins, it would be partly their own 
contemptuous indifference to it. 

It would seem that we ono^ht to have at least half a 
dozen lives apiece, to account for such an indifference, 
but to be ready to toss away the only one on any and 
every pretext or uo pretext is not at all so intelligible. 
It is certainly not the desperation of poverty by which 
it is occasioned. Many of them are in yqvj good cir- 
cumstances. The 3^ounger McLowry, a boy under twen- 
ty, had $3000 in his pocket, the proceeds of a sale of 
cattle, the day he fell. 

The elder Clanton had played cards most of the night 
before with two of his deadly enemies, both parties keep- 
ing a hand on their pistols meanwhile. When " Billy " 
Clanton, a boy, like McLowrj^, lay prone on the ground 
in the fight, dying of his mortal wound, he still managed 
to get out a pistol, steadied it on a shattered arm, and 
fired once more at "Doc Holliday," saying, 

" I'll get one of you, any way." 

"You are a daisy if you do," replied Doc Holliday, 
continuing to advance as coolly as if at target practice, 
and emptying another barrel of his own into him. 

And the last words of Billy Clanton, in the Nibelungen- 
iike contest — which I am quite aware will not be quoted. 



in school-readers, with those of Lawrence, E'elson, and 
Montcahn, since there was no sense at all in this fren- 
zied display of pluck and tenacity — were: "For God's 
sake more cartrido^es !" 

Meantime the whistles of the mining works were shriek- 
ing notes of alarm, the miners pouring forth from un- 
derground, and the reputable citizens, who might have 
exclaimed, "A plague o' both your houses!" arming 
themselves in hot haste, and coming to their doors, to 
prevent the spread of general anarchy. 


There is a grimly humorous element in it all. It 
seems such an excellent joke to idly snuE out the most 
precious of human possessions. A cow-boy shoots a tum- 
bler from the hand of another, just raised to his lips, say- 
ing, " When you drink with me I will teach you to take 
whiskey plain, and uo mixtures." 

A group of others sit around in a saloon where lies 
a fresh -made corpse. An officer of the law enters, and 
says, "Who claims this man?" whereupon all jump to 
their feet to dispute the honor. 

There is a large supply of these amusing stories. To 
kill your man seems a way of winning your spurs, as it 
w^ere, and establishing yourself on a proper footing in the 
community. Even the defunct, in various cases, could he 
be heard from, would probably find no great fault with 
the manner of his taking off, but only with the "luck" 
of it which had gone against him. 





The night journey returning by stage to Benson was 
enlivened by more shooting stories. I heard, among oth- 
ers, of the doings of the late Brazelton of Tucson, and 
at Tucson I bought his photograph, taken, after death, 
in his mask and otlier paraphernalia of his craft. He 
robbed stages for years while apparently working quiet- 
ly as a hostler in a corral. He was finally tracked to his 
fate through some peculiar marks of the horse he rode. 

One of our passengers had just recovered from wounds 
received in a fight over cards with a Mexican, whom he 
had killed, and was now able, with the aid of morphine, 
to pursue his journey toward his home in New Mexico, 
The train men at Benson were chary of carrying their 
lanterns about the depot yard, a habit having arisen, it 
seemed, among the cow-boys of trying to snuff out these 
moving targets with revolvers from a distance. 

There seemed a certain tameness even in the Apaches 
after this wild product of the higher civilization of the 
whites. The principal group of prisoners taken after the 
attempted massacre of General Carr's command was found 
in confinement at Camp Lowell, nine miles north of Tuc- 
son. There were forty-two of them, with Sanchez, their 
chief. They were of fairly regular features, and their 
expression, with the war-paitit washed off, not iinamiable. 



Tliey were handcuffed together in couples, their legs also 
manacled, and now wore gray army under-shirts and cot- 
ton drawers, the rags in 
which they had come 
having been taken from 
them. Their long black 
hair hung about their 
ears, not frowzy, like 
that of the Yumas, but 
smoothly parted in the 
middle, and brushed 
back. A number wore 
red bands or kerchiefs 
around their heads. 



Seen obscurely in the eliief prison-room by side-light 
from a grated window, they had a certain resemblance to 
Greek insurgents, or the sans culottes of 1793, or, again, 
the wild Yendean peasants who fought with Rochejaque- 
lein and Jean Chouan for religion and the king. 

They were taken out for an airing in the mornings, 
and allowed to squat in the sun at the edge of the pleas- 
ant parade-ground, flanked by its well-shaded row of 
officers' dwellings. The recent rising had been the re- 
sult of a fanatical delusion. A medicine-man persuaded 
them that he had received a revelation to drive all the 
whites from the land. As soon as the corn was ripe, he 
said, their dead brethren would arise and take arms to aid 
them in carrying out the decree of Heaven. He had, as 
many prophets have not, the courage of his convictions. 
Though taken in charge himself by the troops, he gave a 
signal agreed upon for the massacre of these to begin, call- 
ing to his people not to be concerned about his fate, as 
he would come to life and join them again in three days. 

The bluif Arizonians are apt to indulge in a derisive 
way of talking of the army and its relation to the savages. 
They would make but short work of these latter, they say, 
if they took the matter into their own hands. They im- 
ply that the army does not wish to kill off, or even wholly 
put down, the Indians, but rather to preserve them, as a 
gentle stimulus to public dread, to hasten promotions, 
and also to furnish occasion for profitable supply -con- 
tracts. However this may be, it would seem that after 
the repression of this revolt, and the rapid penetration of 
railroads into the Territory, Indians need no longer be a 
deterring influence of great moment with the intending 
settler. This old historic source of apprehension seems 
as good as abolished from its last stronghold. 

Eight miles to the north brings us to a ranch called 




Fuller's Hot Springs. This is one of the few places 
where a beginning of systematic cultivation has been 
made, and interesting besides as a typical Arizona sum- 
mer resort. There was a young orchard of twenty-five 
acres, sheltered by a wind-break of three rows of ash- 
trees, doing very well in an alkali soil. The buildings 
consisted of a number of unpainted adobe houses, each 
of a single large, comfortable room, roofed with strips of 


There was a '' summer dining-room " made of ocotilla 
sticks, the intervals open ; and a " winter dining-room," 
with tight walls, and a fireplace, in which a wood -fire 
was burned mornings and evenings. The hot spring, a 
clear, pleasant water, said to resemble English Harrogate, 
ran out from below a bath-house, consisting of a patched 
canvas tent. It became, belovv, a pretty brook, a pond for 
the cattle, and source of supply for irrigating the orchard. 
The mountains behind the place, the Santa Catalinas, are 
like the Sierra Madres behind Los Angeles. They are of 
the same sharp fracture, but higher and grander, jutting 
up here and there into as perfect castles as those of 
Harlech, the Trostberg, or Rheinstein. Forests of pine of 
large dimensions crown a part of their summits. South 
and south-west, across the wide plain, appear the Rincons 
and silver-bearing Santa Ritas. 

There was a fascination in being able to examine at 
leisure the strange growths of the plain, and not merely 
to know them in glimpses from the car -windows. I 
made haste especially to cut down for inspection an ex- 
ample of the enormous saguara, the organ-cactus. Taller 
than that on the hill-sides of Guerrero along the Acapulco 
trail, it often rises to a height of sixty feet, bristles over 
the landscape like masts or columns, or, again, like the 
seven-branched candlestick of the Mosaic law. Inside it 
consists of a white, juicy pulp, imbedding a bundle of 
fibres in the form of long wands, which, when dried, 
serve a number of useful purposes. It has a palatable 
fruit, which the Indians collect from its top in August 
with forked sticks. 

The ocotilla is simply a shrub growing as a wattle of 
sticks, fifteen or twenty together, only waiting to be cut 
down and turned into palings. The bisnaga is a thorny 
cactus like an immense watermelon o^rowins^ on end. One 



need never die of tliirst wliere it is found. 
The cholla is a mass of spines, whicli are even 
barbed, on the fish-hook principle. It is consid- 
ered funnj to hear of somebody's falling into a 
cholla, and nothing could better represent the 
traditional " bramble-bnsh " in which the 
man who was so w^ondrous wise met with 
the famous adventure of scratching out 
his eyes. The "deer- brush" somewhat 
:'esembles the horns of the animal. The 
palo verde — green stick — grows as large 
as an apple-tree, with the texture of a 



mammoth sea-weed. The "grease-wood" is a large busli, 
said, to burn just as well when green as drj. Most of 
this vegetation is leafless, or rather the plant seems a 
leaf itself, since coarse bark is lacking, and the green of 
chlorophyll and the tenderness of structure seem equally 
distributed throughout. 

There are homely legends and superstitions about these 
plants of the desert. A certain one, for instance, poisons 
any white spot on a horse, but not one of any other 
color. Another, eaten by horses, makes them lazy and 
imbecile. The loco, or rattle-weed, on the other hand, 
drives them raving crazy, and they try to run them- 
selves to death. I do not know whether this last be 
wholly a superstition, for I rode in California a horse 
whose eccentric proceedings could hardly be accounted 
for on any other basis. 

Tucson, from a distance, in early morning or late after- 
noon, is level, low, square, and brown, with a mellow 
light upon it and the castellated mountains behind it. 
In the foreground you see lazy ox-wains, a prospector, 
perhaps, with his pots and kettles, and a mounted Mexi- 
can towing by a lariat a bull, which ducks its head in 
vain resistance. From a distance it is thoroughly for- 
eign, and of attractive promise. There is something of 
the Dead Sea apple in the realization of this promise. 
If Ruskin be right in holding that a house should be of 
the general color of the soil on which it stands, Tucson 
may lay claim to great artistic merit. It is entirely of 
adobe brick of the natural mud -color. Violent rain- 
storms occur, to the detriment of paint and kalsomine, 
on such a friable surface, and their use becomes a seri- 
ous question of economy. 

Tucson has great antiquity as a mere corporate ex- 
istence. It was founded by one of the early Spanish ex- 




peditions that came up the Santa Crnz Yallej in quest 
of the reputed treasure of tlie Aztecs in tlie fabled " land 
of Cibola," but retains no visible trace of age. If there 
were ever any monuments of importance, they have effec- 
tually vanished. Even the church is new. Such foreign- 
ness as there is consists of a very provincial Mexican 

The considerations of interest about it are of a purely 
utilitarian character, as: how it is to be paved, drained, 
lighted, provided wnth an adequate water supply, so as 
not to have to pay four cents a bucket for it, as at pres- 
ent; and how it is to get rid of its malarial fevers and 
shabby rookeries. 

A writer in one of the papers one day paid a glowing 
eulogy to its peculiar situation, in the desert. He held 
that this was a matter not only of those material prod- 
ucts which I have mentioned, but also of the highest 
moral and intellectual advantages. It was apropos of the 
establishment of a public library. No great idea has ever 
been evolved in the usual scenes of human habitation (so 
the argument ran), and that there is no place for study 
and contemplation like the desert. Christ, Mahomet, Zo- 
roaster, and Confucius all formulated their creeds in the 
desert. I gathered that we are to expect from Arizona, 
at the proper time, some new prophet or sage, to sway 
again the destinies of men in the same way. 

The correspondent was satisfied, at any rate, that, with 
a public library, Tucson could shortly become another 
Alexandria of the desert, "a seat of learning and foun- 
tain-head of ideas, to be sought b}^ students from Mexico, 
from the Pacific Islands, from China and Japan, and the 
mountains and valleys of the Kio Grande," and I for one 
shall be very glad to see it so. 

It is the commercial centre of the important Southern 





mining district, and has an eligible situation for future 
development. It has derived in its time considerable 
profit from furnishing supplies to the army, and from a 
smuggling trade with Mexico. The goods for this latter 
were taken out in teams, then " packed " over the moun- 
tain passes, on donkeys, to the objective points of Altar 
and Magdalena, in cactus-grown, arid Sonora. 

The traders at Tucson, again, are largely Jewish. A 
certain kind of " life " prevails freely, as at Tombstone. 
Roulette, faro, and other games of chance are played in a 
large way in the leading saloons, while the poor Mexicans 
gamble for small stakes at fondas of their own, where 
some wretched lithograph of Hidalgo or Zaragoza looks 
down on them from the walls. There is lacking, how- 
ever, the choleric and dangerous air of Tombstone. 
People make way for you to pass if you wish, and do 
not seem exclusively occupied with looking about for 
somebody to tread on the tails of their coats. 

If Tucson be without historic remains of its own, it 
has one of the loveliest possible in its vicinity, the old 
mission church of San Xavier del Bac. 

San Xavier is on the reservation of the Christianized 
Papago Indians, in the Santa Cruz Yalley, ten miles to 
the southward. It is a new sensation even for one from 
Mexico who may have flattered himself that he knew the 
style completely. This ancient landmark of a frontier 
civilization which, since its destruction, has not been even 
faintly approached in its kind, is not surpassed either in 
Mexico or out of it for the quaintness, the qualities of 
form and color, and the gentle sentiment of melancholy 
that appeal to the artistic sense. Old Father Time has 
trodden with heavy step on green wooden balconies in 
its front, broken out their floors, and left parts of them 
dangling free. The original sweet-toned bronze bells 





still hang in one of the towers. The space, terminating 
in a scrolled gable, between the towers is enriched with 
escutcheons and rampant lions, wreathed in foliage, 
l^iches hold grotesque broken statues, and complicated 
pilasters flank the entrance doorway, the whole formed 
in stucco upon a basis of moulded bricks. Where a por- 
tion has fallen away it can be seen that the pilasters are 
constructed upon or held together by a centre consisting 
of a stick of timber. 

The designer, whoever he may have been, was inspired 
by Venetian -Byzantine traditions. It is roofed with 
numerous simple domes and half-domes. The interior 
of these, frescoed with angels and evangelists, the chan- 
cel walls, almost covered with gilding, but stained and 
battered, and the painted and gilded lions on the chancel 
rails, recall to the least observant Saint Mark's at Venice. 
The style is not quite consistently carried out, however. 
A later rococo decoration, as exuberant as the vagaries of 
East Indian work, mingles with and at places overrides 
it. A Henri II. candlestick will give a certain idea of 
the pattern of the columns. 

The date has disappeared from the fa9ade, but it is be- 
lieved to be about 1768, and the present edifice was built 
on the ruins of a former one, going back much nearer to 
1654, when the mission to the Papagos was first begun. 
Large angels, with bannerets, their draperies formed of 
fajpier-macM or gummed muslin, are attached to the 
main chancel piers ; and a painted and gilded Virgin, 
with a long face, and hair brushed up from a high fore- 
head, as in the sculptures of Jean Goujon, looks down 
from a high altar niche. 

All within is of a mediaeval richness and obscurity. 
All without is broad sunshine falling upon the peaceful 
Papago village. A few old men trudge about, concern- 


ing themselves with their bake-ovens and some water- 
jars and strings of dried squashes, and women pass by 
with tall loads of hay and other produce carried in the 
Mjo^ a singular hamper of sticks and netting, on their 
backs. Nobody concerns himself about visitors, except 
a foolishly smiling boy, one Domingo, who has brought 
us the key. 

To have come from that spasm of aggressive modern- 
ism. Tombstone, and to be at ancient San Xavier del Bac 
— it seemed to me that contrast could little farther go. 





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3 1236 01475 4157 

B 54 
Old Mexico and 
her 103t proYinces.